Alaska Fire Service Goes International
BLM-Alaska Fire Management Officer Mike Lambright worked in Russia from Aug. 6 to 20 as part of a two-person U.S. Agency for International Development Office of U. S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/ OFDA) technical assistance team responding to Russia’s wildfires. Lambright’s teammate was Chris Knobel from the U.S. Forest Service International Programs-Disaster Assistance Support Program.
Last July and August, Russia experienced its highest temperatures in more than a century, coupled with its worst drought in at least 50 years. The hot, dry conditions fueled more than 26,400 wildland fires that burned more than 4.7 million acres, displaced 3,500 people, and claimed 52 lives (including three firefighters).
Lambright and Knobel assessed wildfire impacts, evaluated newly burned terrain hazards, and provided technical assistant to Russia’s government and its emergency response to the crisis. They recommended immediate aid shipments of emergency firefighting equipment, including Nomex clothing, personal protective devices, tools, backpack pumps, water tanks, drip torches, and medical kits. They also helped Russia address future collaborative fire management projects with various fire and emergency management agencies.
Lambright and Knobel joined the more than 165,000 fire personnel and thousands of fire engines, water tankers, fire support vehicles, and general fire suppression equipment responding to the emergency. Hundreds of fixed- and rotor-wing aircraft provided air support. France, Belarus, Ukraine, Italy, and other countries joined the United States to help Russia. In response to the team’s request for aid shipments, USAID/OFDA presented $50,000 through the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and its Charge d’Affairs, Eric Rubin, for the Russian Red Cross to purchase and distribute emergency relief supplies for fire-affected households. The U.S. European Command provided additional firefighting equipment and the State of California donated 1,500 Nomex pants and 400 Nomex jackets. The U.S. contributed $4.5 million, including transport.
Dave Curry, Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Manager, BLM-Alaska Fire Service, worked on a team with Dan Cottrell from the U.S. Forest Service in Montana, and Joe Reyes from the U.S. Forest Service in California, to teach the Incident Command System (ICS) in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, in September. The team taught basic and intermediate ICS classes to 25 Brunei students who will then become ICS trainers. Brunei is one of 10 member countries in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) interested in adopting and using the ICS. Brunei, Philippines and Thailand are participating as pilots for the program. The U.S. Forest Service International Forestry Program and the U.S. Agency for International Development jointly sponsored Curry’s assignment. This was Curry’s third trip to the region. He has also provided similar training in India and Sri Lanka.
Joe Ribar, BLM-Alaska Fire Service Branch Manager for Logistics Operations, will be in the Philippines in October to teach Incident Command System planning. He has given ICS training to oil companies on Alaska’s North Slope and to Alaska state and local government staffers. Joe also participated in two previous international assignments. First he traveled to Mussoorie, India, in May 2007 where he taught “Creating and Conducting Disaster Simulation Exercises” at the Centre for Disaster Management, LBS National Academy of Administration. Next was Victoria, Australia, in February 2010, where he taught members of the Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment fire program.