A day in the life of a BLM firefighter
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) – Fire crews in southern Idaho have been busy responding to wildfires in the area.
KMVT’s Zach Bruhl talks to a crew that has actively fought off incidents, like the Bray Fire, about how a busy start could impact the rest of the season.
When responding to fires, the Bureau of Land Management has safety protocols in place to ensure crews do not overwork themselves.
“For every two hours of work, they need one hour off. So generally speaking we try not to have them work much more than 15 to 16 hours a day because that gives them 8 hours of rest and recovery for the next day,” said Kelsey Brizendine, of Twin Falls BLM Fire Management. Program.
But, under certain circumstances, this protocol can be broken.
Large fires, those that threaten life or property, fires that are nearing completion, and other scenarios may require extreme measures to be taken.
“We can break that two to one and go up to 36 hours. It has to be approved and it’s not taken lightly,” Brizendine said.
So imagine this, you just worked 36 hours fighting a fire; hard physical labor. You have 10 hours of rest, but you sleep 10 hours like this, it might not be the best rest you’ve ever had.
“My head hits the pillow in my sleeping bag and it’s like I’m blinking and being awake. We try, you know, to have the same routine, breakfast, lunch, dinner, but most of the time it’s just sleep, eat and go,” said Jack Darcy of the Twin Falls BLM Fire Management Program.
Darcy says this routine is manageable for one shift, but if used multiple times per season, the risk increases.
“It’s dangerous. We’re risking safety through lack of sleep,” Darcy said.
With fire season in full swing, Twin Falls District BLM has already operated 36-hour crews to battle the Bray Fire and while crews hope to avoid relying on those hours again, they remain ready to respond should of need.
Darcy finished by adding, “The work needs to be done. We’re pretty used to it, so we can just turn around and just go back…to work.
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