Wildland Firefighters Prepare For Fire Season

Apr 29, 2021, 6:30 PM | Updated: 9:34 pm

CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah – Firefighters began training for what they predict will be a busy season.

What’s concerning to a lot of them, is that between Davis, Salt Lake, and Utah Counties, there have already been a good number of grass fires over the past month.

It’s hard to predict the future, but firefighters are taking that as a cue to be ready.

Many of the wildland firefighters are just that – they come on each season to help through what’s typically the busiest time of year.

Unified Fire Authority has over 50 staff that come on for the wildland season. They’re also contracted to protect Camp Williams, which spans about 28,000 acres.

On Thursday they were out digging trenches, and practicing their attack for brush fires.

The majority of those can be prevented, since most wildland fires are caused by people.

Unified Fire spokesman, Matt McFarland said their biggest tool is educating the public in fire safety.

“When you look at the statistics, between 75 and 90 percent of all wildfires are human caused,” McFarland said. “And that’s where education comes in. These guys are prepared to work on those fires; to go to work, to put them out as necessary.”

A big part of the prediction for a busy fire season is because Utah is still facing a drought. The concern is that there could be a lot of fires this year if people don’t step up and do their part to prevent them.

They may not have flames, but ground crews are preparing just the same. More than fifty seasonal wildland firefighters are priming their skills at Camp Williams.

“Many of them are long-term, returning employees,” McFarland said. “These are guys that know their work cycle is cyclical, and they’re going to come back every year, and they take a lot of pride in being wildland firefighters in the summer.”

He the tactics for fighting wildland fires are very different than with structure fires.

“It’s labor intensive,” he said. “There’s a lot of knowledge that goes into it.”

They are digging lines, preparing to cut down trees, and practicing using emergency shelters, for those worst-case possibilities.

The tactic is more about taking fuels away rather than dousing the large fires.

“We don’t usually have the advantage of water at our disposal,” McFarland said. “We’re also in an area that’s hard to access. Usually they’re hiking in to get to these fires, and they’re fighting them with hand-tools instead of hose-lines.”

Unified Fire is also contracted to help protect Camp Williams – something that came on after the Machine Gun Fire, back in 2010.

“These guys go out there, and they put themselves in harm’s way, but I know for a fact that all wildland firefighters love this job. They love the physicality of it,” McFarland said.

But McFarland says they also need all of us to do our part.

“Utah’s a great state for outdoor recreation, and we need to outdoor recreationalists to be hyper aware of where they are, and what they’re doing,” he said.

Many of those wildland firefighters will also go out and help with large fires around the country this summer.

McFarland said those experiences help back here too, because they bring back the knowledge, what they see out there and pass it on to firefighters here in Utah.



KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Cottonwood High lines up for a free kick following a fair catch against Jordan High. (KSL Sports)...
Andrew Adams

Coach, kicker & official reflect on Cottonwood High’s rare, game-winning play

Cottonwood defeated Jordan High after the Colts attempted and converted a free kick for three points with 12 seconds left following a fair catch on a punt.
4 months ago
Karah Brackin

Utah Veterans head to Washington D.C. for ‘trip of a lifetime’

75 veterans left Salt Lake City for Washington D.C. Tuesday morning.
4 months ago
Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, introduces himself as a member of a n...
Ashley Imlay, KSL.com & Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Supreme Court declines to hear Utah gun rights activist’s appeal to overturn bump stock ban

A prominent Utah gun rights activist has lost his bid to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal bump stock ban.
4 months ago
Yvette Rodier, shooting survivor...
Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

LETTER PODCAST: Victim says bullet wounds were easiest part of recovery

When Yvette Rodier woke up in a hospital, she knew, even before anyone told her, that her friend, Zachary Snarr, was dead.
4 months ago
Housing construction....
Ladd Egan

Unaffordable Utah: Mortgage rates climb again as buyers look for price reductions

Utah's housing market is whiplashing as last year's buying frenzy seems to have slowed down to signs of a recession.
4 months ago
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt: How cybercriminals use social engineering to get us to hand over our sensitive info

You can have the strongest, most secure password in the history of cybersecurity, but the bad guys know there is one weakness they can use to hack into your system - you!
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Wildland Firefighters Prepare For Fire Season