It’s not all about fighting forest fires in a national park. It’s also about protecting residences, concessions facilities, visitor centers and business offices, and historic structures.
And as anyone who has driven up the Generals Highway on a summer afternoon knows, a vehicle that overheats poses a danger not only to the occupants, but to the entire park if the parched grass catches so much as a spark.
So last week, from March 14 to 16, there were 31 firefighters from 10 National Park Service units who were in Sequoia to brush up on their skills and techniques. As part of the three-day recertification, the firefighters were at Sequoia’s “Fire Training Grounds,” built in 2012 and located about a mile up the Shepherd Saddle Road from the Ash Mountain Rec Center.
Two fire simulators engaged the firefighters in suppression exercises. The structure-fire simulator consists of shipping containers in an L-shape configuration that replicates a building that firefighters must navigate when set on fire.
The car-fire simulator is retrofitted with propane burners, but without any rubber, plastic, or glass to avoid emitting noxious chemicals into the air.
On separate days, the simulators were ignited, and fully outfitted firefighters went to work suppressing the blazes while practicing locating victims inside the building and quickly extinguishing a vehicle fire.
In 2013, Sequoia-Kings Canyon fire personnel receive a Superior Achievement Award for their efforts in developing and maintaining an effective and safe structural fire suppression program.