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Swamp Hike

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I know there are some volunteer firefighters on this forum so I figured you could appreciate this.

 

About 5:30 PM yesterday got tripped out. There was a large brush fire under large high tension power lines. There was a large brush pile on some dry ground that had likely been set, and the fire got out of control. The fire was surrounded by swamp. I've never seen such a thing, but the tall dead stuff caught and burned across the standing water. we tried to get at it from two different ends. I hiked about a mile through swamp water up to my waist in turnout gear (no wildland gear or hip boots in our department). At one point I stopped hearing the guys who were walking behind me. I look back and they're standing and not following. I didn't know why but figured what the heck, I'm dirty and gross and I've come this far, might as well chug on. Well, I find out much later that a 5' water snake swam right behind me and I never saw it. Rather than tell me and scare the snot out of me, they let it go and waited a while (to get their courage up) to let it get away before continuing.

I hate swamps. The water I poured out of my boot and hosed out of my gear afterwards was pure black. One thing I will say though, is that I went someplace very few go, and I got to see some beautiful raptors in nests on the power line towers and the trees in the swap. I couldn't tell if they were hawks, ospreys or eagles. We have all of them around here. I had left my phone at the station so I didn't get any pictures, but I'd like to get a drone or something into there and get pictures someday.

Well, eventually we run into our chief coming the other direction with a mutual aid department's crew and are told to turn around -can't get to it this way. We ended up just putting crews on each powerline/road intersection and watching it burn itself out. So all that hiking, nastiness, and nearly getting consumed by an anaconda (I'm being sarcastic, chill. I know your snakes are worse), all for nothing.

We return and I'm hosing down. My gear is disgusting. and my cothes underneath are soaked and nasty. I have my wife bring me clean clothes. I've torn all my gear apart and put it in the washer. As I'm gear-less and have yet to find spare gear that fits, mutual aid trips us out for a brush fire in their district adjacent a swamp. I was happy to let the dry guys have a turn. I stayed back and cleaned gear. THEN, the city on the other side of our mutual aid has a house fire. Our mutual aid department is out fighting their brush fire, so they were unable to respond, so we were hustling to be on standby for us, and our mutual aid, and ready to respond to the city. Home at eleven then had to shower.

Commentary: We had several mutual aid departments at our brush fire with their wildland trucks, ATV's, UTV's etc. and none of it was worth a darn. Not one of them has a snorkel so if it's up to my waist, they're sucking water. A lot of departments like toys and they were no more useful than a hike on two legs with hand tools.

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A lot of the brush rigs around here have snorkels.  A local department burned up a Super Duty when they sucked in a hot ember on a grass fire.  After that, they stated adding snorkels to get the intake away from the ground.

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Don't envy you on the swamp thing. Normally we will sit out on the good ground and fight it when it gets to us. 

We got paid to control burn a slough once, landowner thought if we burned it, it would help to dry it up and he could get more hay production. 

A few of us walked around best we could with drip torches trying to light it. 

I stepped in a hole and luckily the guy behind me grabbed me and kept me from going completely under. Rest of day had boots full of muck and water and wildland gear was soaked and heavy and cold (there was still some ice on).

Not as heavy as turnout gear would be though, don't know how you guys fight fire in bunker gear. Damn that would be hot. 

Stay safe when you are out on a call. 

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Watched a cattail slough burn one time. I was amazed at how fast and how large it was. The next gravel road over was enough of a fire break to stop it as fast as it started...

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Screw that, let it burn until it gets to a point  where you can access it safely. If you are in waist deep water its not hurting anything, actually probably good to burn off the dead growth. Risk vs Reward. I will take tenements and high rise fires any day over a swamp fire with snakes any day of the week. 

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Nothing really burns here, a few acres at best, we have guys on neighboring departments who go out west and fight wild land fires, now that’s some kind of excitement!

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w

We have a younger department and a younger chief some of us more experienced guys  would just as soon let a swamp fire come to us when ever possible . but just a week a go  we ended up getting a wrecker to pull out our super duty  and then spent 2-3 hrs cleaning gear  and the side by side plus the super duty all for a swamp that if it would be burned once it would be better for it.  fighting fire with your boots filled with mud is no fun I can't walk on water the fire can let it come to me.

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Not a fireman but my mind says set up on solid ground or take the battle to the air....with water tankers and such....

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After some complaining by me I now have wild land gear. Some of the guys in my department that joined years before I did already had some but others didn’t. I guess it’s Who all responds gets the equipment. several grass fire in my bunker gear and one long day of starting a controlled burn then responding that night I told them I gotta have a pair. Severe case of swamp crotch was gonna make me strip before I put gear on and if they didn’t want to see it I gotta have some lighter stuff. 

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On 5/21/2020 at 6:16 PM, ChrisNY said:

Screw that, let it burn until it gets to a point  where you can access it safely. If you are in waist deep water its not hurting anything, actually probably good to burn off the dead growth. Risk vs Reward. I will take tenements and high rise fires any day over a swamp fire with snakes any day of the week. 

this was under power lines, and that was part of the concern. Also, we weren't sure if it was sneaking through the woods, and into neighboring residential properties.

Once we figured the properties were safe, we hung out and watched it burn itself out while on standby from the high ground. But, we could not confirm that except visually. Well there is a fancy State Police RC camera quad copter thing, but we'd pulled out by the time that arrived anyway.

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