Although Montgomery County is coming out of a historic drought, area Firefighters continue to prepare should last year’s conditions return.
Recent rainfall has led to vastly improved conditions in our area, and Montgomery County has returned to near normal on most drought indexes. Long term forecasts still place Southeast Texas under the continued influence of a seasonal “La Nina” pattern, which may lead to above average drought conditions in the future.
Link to Drought information
Firefighters continue to prepare;
Firefighters throughout Montgomery County have continued to prepare for upcoming wildfire events, taking advantage of the current lull in wildfire activity, gaining valuable training and experience. Recently, Firefighters from Montgomery and Walker County completed Wildland Fire training based on the National Wildland Coordinating Group curriculum.
NWCG is an organization comprised of Federal and State Wildland Fire Suppression Agencies, and serves as the coordinator for National training and response standards. Although most Firefighters are already trained in wildfire suppression techniques and are experienced Wildland Firefighters, this training matches that of Federal and State Firefighters, and is designed to improve their ability to respond to major incidents such as the Riley Road fire and Dyer Mill fires that occurred last year. These fires as well as several other major fires devastated whole areas of SE Texas including nearly every County in our area. Over 100 homes were lost to wildfires in Montgomery, Waller and Grimes County last year, while over 1600 were lost in Bastrop County in just one fire.
The NWCG training consists of both classroom and hands on training, drawing from experience gained from major fires across the United States. Firefighters learn how to better predict fire behavior and manage large wildfires. Incidents such as the Riley Road fire require a coordinated effort involving everything from teams of firefighters equipped with hand tools, to airborne tankers dropping thousands of gallons of retardant daily.
After completing the classroom objectives, firefighters then complete field evolutions working with the Texas Forest Service. This training took place this week and is wrapping up today at the North Montgomery County Fire Station in Willis. Firefighters from several other County Departments have already completed their training, with this week’s training consisting mainly of crews from Montgomery, North Montgomery County, and New Waverly Fire Departments.
Although recent rainfall has brought welcome relief to our fire weary State, Texas firefighters continue to train and prepare should conditions worsen again. Some of these efforts involve strengthening the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System ( TIFMAS ). TIFMAS allows for firefighters from less affected areas of the state to assist as major fires break out in other regions. Hundreds of TIFMAS crews and firefighters responded all across Texas last year. Early last Spring, Montgomery and Walker County Firefighters responded to assist Counties and Towns in West Texas as fires ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres near San Angelo. Some of those same Counties sent crews to assist Montgomery County last September on the Riley Rd Fire. At the peak of the Riley Road Fire over 1000 firefighters and support personnel were involved in efforts to save lives and property threatened by what would become the largest fire ever to strike Montgomery County.