On September 30th the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources awarded the Bellevue Fire Department a 50% grant in the amount of $4,600 ($9,201 total project cost). This grant will allow for the department to purchase 54 sets of wildland firefighting coveralls, 50 pairs of wildland firefighting gloves, and a hand held drip torch. This will provide each member of the fire department with their own set of wildland fire coveralls and wildland fire gloves.
Fighting wildland fires (grass and forest fires) in traditional structural firefighting gear reduces mobility, increases exhaustion rates, and increases the risk of injury and cardiac events in those fighting the fires. The coveralls and gloves will not only improve the effectiveness of the responding firefighters but it will also increase safety on the fire scene by reducing the risk of injury and cardiac events (the leading cause of line of duty deaths for firefighters).
Handheld drip torches use a gasoline/diesel fuel mix and can be used to fight fire by quite literally fighting fire with fire. This technique is called “backfiring”. Firefighters pick a spot where they can safely get ahead of where the fire is going and ignite the materials ahead of the fire. The fire that the firefighters ignited will burn back towards the main fire and the two will eventually meet up. Once the two fires meet up the fire is essentially put out as there is nothing left for the fire to burn. The hand held drip torch can also be used to purposely start fires for prescribed burning. Burning of prairies and natural grassy areas promotes the health of the prairie and enhances the wildlife in the area.
We would like to extend our thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for awarding us this grant and allowing us to outfit our firefighters with the proper equipment for the job.