Photo, pictured left to right: Chip Collins, National Park Service / Grand Teton National Park; Mike Bentley, US Forest Service / Bridger-Teton National Forest; Lori Iverson, US Fish & Wildlife Service / National Elk Refuge; Tobin Kelley, US Forest Service / Bridger–Teton National Forest; and Traci Weaver, National Park Service / Grand Teton National Park.
August 29, 2013
The Teton Interagency Fire program was well represented at
the Beaver Creek Fire near Hailey, Idaho earlier this month, a large wildfire
that received national media attention. The fire, which began on August 7,
quickly grew in size and required the oversight of a Type 1 Incident Management
When the lightning–caused fire began, the National
Interagency Fire Center had issued a prepardedness level of 5 for the Eastern
Great Basin Geographic Area, which includes, among other areas, western Wyoming
and the southern half of Idaho. Ranging from 1 to 5, preparedness levels refer
to the number of incident management teams and crews already committed to
fires. The higher the number, the greater the demand and competition for
resources. Shortly after the Beaver Creek Fire began, the national preparedness
level also jumped to 5, the highest level on the scale. Personnel, crews, and
equipment were scarce due to the increased fire activity, including multiple
large fires in Idaho. However, the Beaver Creek Fire became the top priority
fire in the nation, outcompeting other incidents for needed personnel.
Teton Interagency Fire program staff assisted with
management of the wildfire by filling Fire Behavior Analyst, Resource Unit
Leader, and Fire Information Officer positions. Though over 1,000 people were
eventually assigned to the incident, the five from the Teton Interagency Fire
program worked closely together at the Incident Command Post and attributed
their close working relationship to some of the successes in their respective
roles. “It’s always helpful to have people from your home area on an incident
with you,” explained Chip Collins, who serves on the Great Basin National
Incident Management Team that responded to the fire. “You know each other’s
strengths, you already have cohesion, and you have the support of one another
when you need it, both on the incident and when you’re back at home.”
A sixth member of the Teton Interagency Fire program was
assigned to the incident when fire activity and progression slowed and the fire
transitioned to a Type 2 management level earlier this week. Elizabeth Watson
from Jackson Hole Fire/EMS is currently serving as a Medical Unit Leader,
completing participation in the incident by all the organizations within the Teton
Interagency Fire program.
Access a PDF version of this article to see additional photos. Also, photos of the Beaver Creek Fire can be viewed on the Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1’s Flickr photo site.
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