Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

"In the Zone"...The Urban/Wildland Interface.......

Hey all don't know how far this idea will make it, but some friends of mine said I should so here we go....

The Name of my Blog for all to read will be "IN THE ZONE".  For this blog, "The Zone" is the Wildland - Urban Interface Zone, or the I-Zone as it is commonly referred to. Even if your deep inside the heart of a major metropolitan city, anywhere the Urban Fuel models meet the grass, brush and trees is a Interface. Parks, naturalized waterways, greenbelts around walking trails are jsut some examples of the I zone that might be in your lap and you don't even realize it. 

The idea is to take some of my already 12 years in the fire service, strongly coming from a majority of the wild-land side with federal agencies, and try to pass some ideas on to those with primary metropolitan type structure experience, and our fellow firefighters with out paychecks, the volunteers that make up a large amount of the departments total in this nation.

So to start a bit about me: Well, In the last 12 years both as a seasonal and as a permanent employee, I have worked for the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wild Life Service, California Division of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal-Fire) and various different volunteer departments. I have worked at locations and on fires from Northern California to South Carolina, Montana to New Mexico and a whole lot of boot rubber in between.  If you ever want a really good hike go to the Rawlins, WY BLM field office and have one of the fire folks take you out the back door and "all the way to the top".

One of the big things in the national news right now is the large campaign fires on going here in Texas. In particular are several fires and a thing or two I wish to touch on.......
First my thoughts and prayers of course go out to the families of the fallen. Volunteers that gave there time, and ultimately their lives to protect the lives and property of their fellow Texans.

I understand that budgets are short, and that times are tough, but to me this is where the Fire service as a whole could come together in a second. So riddle me this folks, if I take a old pair of Nomex turnouts, and strip the insulating inner layer out of them what do i have?  A full set of Nomex over clothes. I know they might not wind up to the letter of NFPA 1977, but personally id rather make sure every firefighter has protection first, then worry about it meeting the standard. If your department has good income and can provide all the needs to the department already the great for ya. Maybe that is the time to find out if there is a dark scarey storage room some where crammed full of out of date turnouts that could at least provide wild-land nomex protection to smaller less economically well developed (as some politicians might say) and who knows, it could save a life.

Shelters: If your department comes in to the zone, let me introduce you to a tool you should hope to never ever ever ever ever use. But should have with you on every wildland fire you go on.... A wildland fire shelter. Now I can already hear the expense crys again already... and for those of you that are budget minded... yes they are expensive. But.... How much is the life of just one of your firefighters worth?  Again I see a chance for one of the Big Brothers/Sisters of the fire service at a place where they can help here.

Several years ago all federal firefighters had to change their shelters out for a new design. Now I don't completely know what has happened to all of the old ones that we carried, maybe Elvis has them,  but I'm sure some of them have to be sitting on a shelf in a warehouse somewhere. Are they going to meet the same standard that required federal wild land firefighters to change theirs? Of Course not, it's why were not using those ones anymore. But again.... which is better... No PPE? or PPE that doesn't meet the standard but is not dangerous...If I was a chief of a volunteer department and had the choice... Ill equip em'. 

Another part I want to Discuss today is another one of the most important tools we have "in the Zone", and that is training. PPE and shelters, and nozzles, and DC-10 airtankers  don't do a hill of beans worth of good if we don't train, just the same as every other operation we do in the Fire service.
In the Urban Interface Zone, we have to remain light on our toes and dry run practice this stuff from time to time. Work with other departments also. IF your company is in an area where you get mutual aid to your I-Zone Fires, then work with those floks, do trainings with them, build the rapture with them so that when its hot, smokey, nasty and lives and property may be on the line, everyone works seamlessly together. 

And Finally the Firewise program. Both Fires mentioned above lost homes as many fires in the Wild land - Urban interface have the potential to do because of high fuel loading close to homes and structures. Firwise is a program that is put together by the US Forest Service, The US Department of the Interior, National Association of State Foresters, and the NFPA.  To summarize the program in a nutshell it is a prevention tool for the fire service to use In the Zone.  Through citizen involvement of fire safe councils, a web site full of information at, and the idea of creating defensible space around structures not needing to be barren, but using fire resistive landscaping techniques. One of the major parts of the fire service is to try to put ourselves out of business if you will by prevention. The I-Zone is no different and should be included as part of prevention programs.

So there you have first blog... really long, but I think, good. Comments, recommendations, etc can be sent to me at or left below. Thanks for reading, and if you feel so inclined re-posting.  Ill probably be doing these on a weekly basis for now, unless something jsut comes to me that really needs to be said. Take care, be safe out there.  Wear your PPE! 1*

Views: 176


You need to be a member of Fire Engineering Training Community to add comments!

Join Fire Engineering Training Community

Comment by Molly Mowery on April 27, 2011 at 3:41pm
Nice work!  Good luck with the new blog and we appreciate your support of the Firewise program.
Comment by Jason Myer on April 22, 2011 at 5:41pm

Thanks chief Email sent... Would be honored to write an article for the magazine.


Comment by Bobby Halton on April 22, 2011 at 10:45am
What an incredible blog, you should write this up deeper as an article we would love to publish it for you at Fire Engineering! Please shot me an e-mail at and thanks for all the great information!

Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton
We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our policy page. -- Bobby Halton

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2022   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service