It is unfortunate that in the majority of wildfire operations, poor management and lack of communication leads to a decrease in effectiveness, and at times actually leads to counter-productive activities. This is usually based on the huge area within which the operation is being undertaken, all groups involved being unable to make use of a single radio frequency, and the failure of the Incident Commander to establish a proper management structure. The result is everyone involved ends up doing their own thing, and chaos often ensues with the fire burning for longer and causing more damage. Through no fault of his own, the landowner is usually unfairly regarded as more of a liability than an asset.
To overcome this hurdle, landowners should consider becoming a part of the overall management plan when there is a fire burning in their area, via the following suggested steps:
a) Contact your local fire department and obtain the name and contact number of the Incident Commander / Fire Boss.
b) Make contact with this person and provide them with the following information :
- Your name
- Your contact number
- Your location / farm name
- Your resources (manpower and vehicles)
- The fire situation at your position
- What you plan to do
- What they would like you to do
c) Advise them that you will make contact again at a specific time to provide feedback.
d) If there is a change in your situation, contact them immediately to advise them.
e) Under no condition must you start a back-burn without their permission, as the Incident Commander might have committed crews to an area close to you, and they could become trapped by your counter fire.
In preparation for such events, it is a good idea to provide suitable training and protective clothing & handtools for your staff.