Northern California Fires Highlight the Need for Improved Incident Tracking

The fires that have ravaged Northern California split resources as crews moved from one fire to another. CalFire, the US Department of Forestry, and fire agencies from across the western United States collaborated to attack and defeat one of the worst series of back to back fires in the history of the State.

Today, another fatality was confirmed, bringing the death toll for the series of blazes to 42. A total of 22 people were killed in the Tubbs Fire and one in the Nuns Fire There were eight deaths that took place in Mendocino County, seven in Napa County, and four in Yuba County. The deadliest blaze, the Tubbs fire was finally near containment as of the 17th of October, after burning 36,432 acres and destroying much of the city of Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa Fire at night

Damage continued to be discovered at other fires, including the Atlas Fire, where six people died and 51,064 acres were scorched. More than 420 buildings were destroyed as well.

One of the key elements fighting these fires requires is financial foresight, management, and controls. The collection of wine country fires are expected to become the costliest in California history, exceeding $9 billion dollars. Much of that figure comes from claims, but another huge component is the cost for fighting the fires. Gathering data during such a fire could have a dramatic and positive effect in managing financial and physical resources in the future.

Using All Digital ICS 214 Forms to Track Activities

Not only does FireJournal allow individual journal histories to be kept, but Federal and State required journaling is now easier than ever before. Using the built-in ICS-214 activity forms is just one example of managing time spent – and indirectly the costs associated with those activities. Typically, an ICS form is filled out by hand (pen or pencil). It’s then xeroxed and distributed to the financial group or division involved with managing the fire.

Using the ICS-2124 form in FireJournal is perhaps the easiest process possible for firefighters required to complete these forms. The daily incident operational period data can be input merely by typing and swiping. Text data may either be typed or spoken – as all elements within FireJournal work via audio input if you desire. Each ICS-214 form may be attached to a single incident, so a campaign fire that utilizes a strike team for 14 days (as one example) can have 14 ICS-214 forms stacked together. If you’re using FireJournal Cloud, you may export the ICS data to a PDF file of the government required form in perfect format. Print the form, or email it.

Each form is also attached to a specific incident. Firefighters have the option of creating local incidents, unified command incidents, or campaign fires managed by State or Federal authorities. Key to this process is that not only are the forms shared with the finance group, but they are also maintained locally as part of the overall incident. As new ICS forms come online, the ability for each participating strike team unit to track their overall activities – quickly and easily will have a positive impact on fire incident management.

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Gary Picket

Gary Picket

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