Texas firefighters mobilize to fight wildfires
October 18, 2015, 2:42pm 2,450 views | 1 comment
Oct. 18, 2015 -- COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Firefighters and apparatus from across the state mobilized to assist with fighting fire and protecting homes in Bastrop County on the Hidden Pines Fire that ignited Tuesday, Oct. 13.
The resources were mobilized through the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System administered by Texas A&M Forest Service and activated by the governor’s office.
Thirty TIFMAS fire engines, 3 water tenders and a saw crew arrived in Bastrop County this week.
The firefighters are there to bolster fire operations conducted by local volunteer fire departments, incident management teams, state responding agencies and out-of-state wildland-firefighting resources.
Receiving the call at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, TIFMAS Strike Team Leader Patrick Shipp activated his Harris County team--and by 3:30 p.m. they were working on the fire.
Shipp, of the City of Webster Fire Department, has deployed with TIFMAS before, having fought wildland fires in Texas in 2011 at the PK Complex, Riley Road Fire and Bastrop County Complex.
An impressive list of activations. When asked why his department responds, He said “we do it for our community. We call on TIFMAS in our time of need. This is kind of us paying it forward.”
Shipp is among 154 TIFMAS firefighters currently mobilized in wildfire response. Hailing from 22 Texas counties, responding fire departments include: Abilene FD, Arlington, Austin FD, Beaumont Fire, Brownwood FD, Bryan FD, BSB Fire & EMS, Canyon, Lake FD, Cedar Hill, Coppell FD, Dallas Fire-Rescue, District 7 Fire Rescue, Fort Worth FD, Frisco, Ft. Worth, Galveston, Galveston Fire, Georgetown FD, Greenville Fire-Rescue, Greyforest FD, Helotes FD, Kilgore Fire, Lewisville FD, Longview Fire, Longview Fire, Lufkin Fire, MCESD #1, MCESD#6, Nacogdoches Fire, Nacogdoches Fire, New Braunfels, Northeast Fire HCESD#9, Oak Hill FD / TCESD3, SAFD, San Antonio FD, Schertz FD, Seguin FD, Southlake, Travis County ESD, Webster and Wichita Falls FD.
With near critical wildfire conditions statewide, some of these TIFMAS resources have been activated to other hot spots across the state.
Dan Williams, Bryan Fire Department responder from Brazos County is on a TIFMAS strike team staged at the Smithville City Airport in Bastrop County. With local response departments engaged at the Hidden Pine Fire, the strike team--which consists of five engines and a lead vehicle--is standing ready to support initial attack operations should another wildfire ignite in the area.
Most Tarrant County responders are assisting Texas A&M Forest Service and local volunteer fire departments in the TFS North Branch. Within the last week, the TIFMAS strike team assisted on two initial attack wildfires in Hunt County.
Responders from the Brownwood, Abilene and Wichita Falls Fire Departments make up a TIFMAS strike team that has been protecting homes and fighting fire on the front line on the Whitley Fire in Brown County. The wildfire burned 750 acres and is now contained. Twelve homes were directly threatened -- none were lost.
The surge capacity of wildland firefighting was activated due to two factors: state and volunteer firefighting resources are almost fully committed on fires or at high risk points of the state; and fire weather conditions of record-high temperatures, extremely dry air and critically dry grass, brush and trees warrant swift initial attack on any fires that ignite. As pre-frontal weather conditions subside, the firefighting force needed to respond will decrease and TIFMAS resources may return to their home bases.
In the last seven days, Texas A&M Forest Service--assisted by TIFMAS resources--have responded to 117 wildfires for 9,013 acres.