Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Smoke plumes over the mountains as some of Utah’s largest wildfires rage on. Firefighters work long hours with little rest to protect homes endangered by fire. Amid the chaos of wildfires that toe the perimeters of residential areas, how do firefighters maintain control? Check out this extended gallery that illustrates some of the dangers firefighters face, the techniques they use to control the destruction and terms used in wildfire situations. Firefighters operate under a series of procedures to keep order in emergency situations and, ultimately, work to protect the lives and property of those they serve. These operating procedures are in place to manage everything from firefighters and equipment to finances and logistics.

First response
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“It’s kind of complicated,” said Coy Porter, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal, in an interview with the Deseret News. “Once you’re into the system, it flows really well. The push is to keep it at a manageable number so that you’re not reporting or being reported to more than optimally five people.”

After arriving at the scene of an emergency, firefighters are asked to size up the situation and report back via radio, Porter said. The size-up can range anywhere between a false alarm to a full-scale fire.

The firefighters report if smoke is showing, if there is visible fire and, if there are flames, the magnitude of the incident.

Making a decision
Lennie Mahler, Deseret News

Porter says after assessing the situation, the responders have three choices to make: Attack the fire, start defensive procedures to prevent further spreading or establish a command post for planning.

If the fire isn’t too big, then first-response firefighters will begin working towards putting the fire out.

Rather than the bulky, cumbersome gear used in a house fires, firefighters don thinner Nomex flame resistant cotton designed for wildfire management.

With large fires, emergency workers will request assistance, which can come from outside of their city through “mutual aid.”

Calling for backup
Tom Smart, Deseret News

Mutual aid units come to assist other cities within the same county, Porter said. If the fire proves to be too much, they will call on neighboring counties within their region. Resources come from the state if regional support isn’t enough.

An incident command system, or ICS, is established with an incident commander at the head.

Under the commander’s direction, four sub-commanders manage different arms of the command system. These include operations, logistics, finance and plans, each performing a specialized task to control and extinguish the fire.

Firefighters working to put out the fire fall under operations, while equipment and vehicles are lead by the logistics manager.

Assitance from specialists
Mead Gruver, Associated press

Finance keeps track of work hours and cost of resources. Planers formulate tactics for long-term fire attack based on weather, topography and other factors.

If the problem continues to grow, teams with more resources and specialized training are called it to assist local firefighters.

Teams and equipment are measured in types, Porter said. The types range from one to six, with one being the best equipped to handle wildfires.

Type 2 teams have been dispatched to the Clay Springs and Seeley fires.

Federal aid
David Kadlubowski, Associated Press

Federal agencies, like the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, will get involved, Porter said. Water drops by helicopters and planes come from government contractors commissioned by these agencies.

The state is able to receive grants from the Federal Emergency Mangaement Agency, or FEMA, if additional funding is needed, Joe Dougherty, the public information officer of the Utah Division of Emergency Management, said. The Division of Forestry, Fire and States Lands sends a request to Emergency Management, which then works with FEMA.

The following slides are some terms commonly used during wildfires. The terms come from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group's "Glossary of Wildland Fire Terminology."

Advancing fire
Luis Sanchez Saturno, The New Mexican

"That portion of the fire with rapid fire spread with higher intensity which is normally burning with the wind and/or up slope. Also called: forward fire, or a run."

Attack line
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

"A line of hose, preconnected to the pump of a fire apparatus and ready for immediate use in attacking a fire. Contrasted to supply lines connecting a water supply with a pump or to feeder lines extended from a pump to various points around the perimeter of a fire."

David McNew, Getty Images

"A tactic associated with indirect attack, intentionally setting fire to fuels inside the control line to slow, knock down, or contain a rapidly spreading fire. Backfiring provides a wide defense perimeter and may be further employed to change the force of the convection column. Backfiring makes possible a strategy of locating control lines at places where the fire can be fought on the firefighter's terms. Except for rare circumstance meeting specified criteria, backfiring is executed on a command decision made through line channels of authority."

Michael Brandy, Deseret News

"The part of a containment or control line that is scraped or dug to mineral soil."

Fire Behavior
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

"The manner in which a fire reacts to the influences of fuel, weather, and topography".

Matt Gillis, Deseret News

"Firefighters initially attacking a fire, usually those who arrive first."

Bambi Bucket
Chris Carlson, Associated Press

"A collapsible bucket slung below a helicopter. Used to dip water from a variety of sources for fire suppression."

Bladder bag

"A collapsible backpack portable sprayer made of neoprene or high-strength nylon fabric fitted with a pump."

Susannah Kay, The Colorado Springs Gazette

"A fire edge that crosses a control line or natural barrier intended to confine the fire."

Bryan Oller, Associated Press

"The strategy employed in appropriate management responses where a fire perimeter is managed by a combination of direct and indirect actions and use of natural topographic features, fuel, and weather factors."

Bryan Oller, Associated Press

"The amount of a specified fuel type or strata that is removed through the fire process, often expressed as a percentage of the preburn weight."

Crown fire
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

"A fire that advances from top to top of trees or shrubs more or less independent of a surface fire. Crown fires are sometimes classed as running or dependent to distinguish the degree of independence from the surface fire."

Photo courtesy of Chelsie Clarke

"A situation where personnel are unexpectedly caught in a fire behavior-related, life-threatening position where planned escape routes or safety zones are absent, inadequate, or compromised. An entrapment may or may not include deployment of a fire shelter for its intended purpose. These situations may or may not result in injury. They include 'near misses.'"

Fire Danger
Ravell Call, Deseret News

"Sum of constant danger and variable danger factors affecting the inception, spread, and resistance to control, and subsequent fire damage; often expressed as an index."

Hand line
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

"Fireline constructed with hand tools."

Head fire
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

"A fire spreading or set to spread with the wind."

Hotshot crew
Tara Ross, Associated Press

"Intensively trained fire crew used primarily in hand line construction (Type-1)."

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

"Extinguishing or removing burning material near control lines, felling snags, and trenching logs to prevent rolling after an area has burned, to make a fire safe, or to reduce residual smoke."

Mutual Aid
Ravell Call, Deseret News

"Assistance in firefighting or investigation by fire agencies, without regard for jurisdictional boundaries."

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

"Refers to resource capability. A Type 1 resource provides a greater overall capability due to power, size, capacity, etc., than would be found in a Type 2 resource. Resource typing provides managers with additional information in selecting the best resource for the task."

Self-contained breathing aparatus (SCBA)

"Portable air (not oxygen) tanks with regulators which allow firefighters to breathe while in toxic smoke conditions. Usually rated for 30 minutes of service. Used primarily on fires involving structures or hazardous materials."

Doug Lindley, The Idaho State Journal

"An unplanned, unwanted wildland fire including unauthorized human-caused fires, escaped wildland fire use events, escaped prescribed fire projects, and all other wildland fires where the objective is to put the fire out."

Strike team
Tom Smart, Deseret News

"Specified combinations of the same kind and type of resources, with common communications, and a leader."

Thermal Imagery
Tom Smart, Deseret News

"The display or printout of an infrared scanner operating over a fire. Also called infrared imagery."

Mobilization Center
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

"An off-incident location at which emergency service personnel and equipment are temporarily located pending assignment, release, or reassignment."