We are now done with most of our training and are finally getting into a regular work routine. Our average day consists of a morning workout with the Mystic Ranger District fire crews in Black Hills National Forest. After our workout, we meet for the morning briefing where we go over the fire weather conditions and forecast for that day as well as fire activity across the region and country. We also take Six Minutes for Safety, which touches on a new topic every day that has to do with some aspect of wildland firefighting.
This week we were able to assist the Mystic RD fuels specialist in collecting fuel samples (which are types of vegetation ranging from grass to logs) in the field to determine how dry the fuels are in various locations throughout the Black Hills. The fuels we collected were then placed into an oven and dried for 24 hours. We weighed each sample before and after it was dried to determine the moisture content in each. Once the moisture content has been determined, the numbers are put into a computer where an algorithm calculates an estimate of fire danger and the rate and intensity at which a fire would spread. Besides collecting fuel samples we went to two locations in the forest and used post-hole diggers to place “No Campfire” signs along roadways. It was a nice change of pace and a chance for us to spend more time outside in the hills.
After work, we also went to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks Outdoor Campus and received a short lesson on fly fishing. We had the chance to take what we learned and fish in a pond located at the Outdoor Campus. A few of us even caught some fish. On Friday, some of the corps members also took the opportunity to participate in a training exercise with the South Dakota National Guard and various other local branches of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The exercise practiced the procedure for rescuing a patient using the mechanized hoist of a UH-72 Lakota helicopter. Overall, it was not a bad week.