(KTXL) — Hotshot, Drip Torch, Mop up. Californians hear terms like these every summer as fire agencies report on wildfire conditions.
But what do they mean for those uninitiated to the fire service?
The Department of the Interior created a glossary of terms often used by wildland fire crews along with their definitions.
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Team Members and Their Responsibilities
• Wildland Firefighter: Serves as a crew member on any of the following types of crews: Hand; Engine; Helitack (helicopter); Wildland Fire Use; Hot Shot; Fuels Management; or Detection; using a variety of specialized tools, equipment, and techniques on wildland and prescribed fire.
• Engine Crew: Serves on a fire crew that uses equipment associated with wildland fire engines, including pumps and hoses as well as traditional hand crew equipment.
• Hotshot: Intensively trained fire crew used primarily in handline construction.
• Smokejumper: Specialized, experienced firefighters who parachute into remote areas for initial attack on wildland fires.
• Wildland Fire: Any non-structure fire that occurs in vegetation or natural fuels. Includes Wildfires and Prescribed Fires.
Tools, Equipment and Vehicles
• Drip Torch: Hand-held device for igniting fires by dripping flaming liquid fuel on the materials to be burned.
• McLeod: A combination rake and hoe used for cutting and clearing surface crush. Named after its inventor
• Pulaski: A combination chopping and trenching tool which combines a single-bitted axe blade with a narrow adze-like trenching blade fitted to a straight pole.
• Airtanker: Fixed-wing aircraft certified by FAA as being capable of transport and delivery of fire retardant solutions.
• Fire Retardant: Any substance except plain water that reduces flammability to fuels or slows their rate of combustion.
Tactics, Preparation and Protection
• Prescribed Fire: A wildland fire originating from a planned ignition in accordance with applicable laws, policies and regulations to meet specific objectives.
• Controlled: The completion of control line around a fire, any spot fires there from, and any interior islands to be saved; burned out any unburned area adjacent to the fire side of the control lines; and cool down all hot spots that are immediate threats to the control line, until the lines can reasonably be expected to hold under the foreseeable conditions.
• Fuel Break: A natural or manmade change in fuel characteristics that affects fire behavior so that fires burning into them can be more readily controlled.
• Air Attack: Deployment of fixed-wing or rotary aircraft on a wildland fire, to drop retardant or extinguishing agents, shuttle and deploy crews and supplies or perform aerial reconnaissance of the overall fire situation.
• Contained/Containment: The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread.
• Fire Line: The part of the control line that is scraped or dug in the soil.
• Fire Management: Activities required for the protection of burnable wildland values from fire and the use of prescribed fire to meet land management objectives.
• Incident Command Post (ICP): Location at which primary command functions are executed. The ICP may be collocated with the incident base or other incident facilities.
• Suppression: All the work to extinguish or limit wildland fire spread.
• Suppress a Fire: The most aggressive wildfire suppression strategy leading to the total extinguishment of a wildfire.
Fire Characteristics and Behavior
• Wildfire: A wildland fire originating from an unplanned ignition, such as lightning, volcanos, unauthorized and accidental human-caused fires, and prescribed fires that are declared wildfires.
• Fire Behavior: The manner in which a fire reacts to the influences of fuel, weather, and topography.
• Fire Effects: The physical, biological, and ecological impacts of fire on the environment.
• Fire Storm: Violent convection caused by a large continuous area of intense fire. Often characterized by destructively violent surface indrafts, near and beyond the perimeter, and sometimes by tornado-like whirls.
• Flare-up: Any sudden acceleration in rate of spread or intensification of the fire. Unlike blowup, a flare-up is of relatively short duration and does not radically change existing control plans.
• Hot Spot: A particularly active part of a fire.
• Spot Fire: Fire ignited outside the perimeter of the main fire by a firebrand.
• Underburn: A fire that consumes surface fuels but not the overstory canopy (trees and shrubs).