Sunday, July 31, 2011

A typical weekend

Remember last weekend I worked at the PRF? Roads washed out and we had to close the gates due to safety reasons. You can read about it here.
This weekend I am up at the PRF again, but it looks like this might be a more typical weekend. Yesterday was pretty quiet, and the fire index was low enough so I didn't have to send the student up the fire tower. This morning it was still pretty low, but when we checked at 1 pm, it had climbed enough that I decided to send a student up, just to make sure everything is ok.

Now I can hear you thinking, what is the fire index? The fire index is the Fire Weather Index, developed based on fire research done at the PRF. It takes several components into account, such as rainfall, temperature, wind speed and humidity, and based on those number calculates the FWI.  At the PRF we rely on it when deciding on whether to man the fire towers or not. Normally you man one fire tower when the index goes up to around 4, and two towers when you get close to 7. We normally check the index at 9 am, and again at 1 pm. In the afternoon, it also provides you with an 'predicted FWI', which we use in our decision to send someone up. There are two weather stations, so we receive two different FWI's. Since rainfall can be very local around here, the numbers can vary quit a bit. The weather stations closest to the office gave us a number of 3.2, and a prediction of 9.2. The station further away had a current FWI of 2.1, and a predicted FWI of 6.9. The station further away received more rain, and has therefore a lower number. Pretty cool, eh? So to be on the safe side, I sent one student up to the tower nearest by. Normally you would send someone to the further tower, and then if smoke is detected, someone else can quickly go to the nearest tower to get the second bearing. However, the far end of the property is still pretty wet, and there is no activity on the base, so the chances of seeing anything on that side are pretty low (knock on wood!). Hopefully there is no smoke detection today!

Another task is to make sure the roads are in good shape, no washouts or fallen trees, etc. It's one of the perks of working weekends, I get to see stuff like this:

Not bad, eh?
But I also get a lot of work done on the weekends, since there is minimal interruption from email or phone. The only thing that is hard: to be inside on a gorgeous day like today when the woods are calling...

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