Brush Fire Safety: Firefighters Tackle Flames with Special Tools

Spring has sprung in Central New York, but that also sparks a seasonal hazard.

"The snow just compressed everything, and now all the dead stuff is just kind of lying down on the ground and it's been compressed. A bunch of warm days, it just dries out and it's like perfect,” said Kip Williams, a lieutenant in the Fayetteville Fire Department.

These brush fires aren't like the massive ones you see in other parts of the country. Trees here are rarely dry enough to catch fire, although crews say it's the unpredictability of the outdoors that makes them dangerous.

"A little fire that doesn't look like anything, you add a lot of wind to it, and it's like a blow torch. It just kind of goes,” said Williams. "And if there's a lot of fuel, what we call it, it could just take right off."

And there's a lot of different tools that they use to fight these outdoor fires, from wearing lightweight jackets to using rakes and axes, and even sometimes carrying their water right on their backs.

"We're probably going to be away from the road, probably not going to have hydrants,” said Williams, "so taking an engine, yeah, it has a lot of water, and we can use it to refill smaller equipment, and that's typically what would happen."

But water is their last line of defense. The battle starts with rakes and shovels.

"You're going to go at it with your rake or your shovel and then to make sure it's out you're going to spray it with water,” Williams said. “You're not going to be going around spraying water on everything; you're going to get it with your tools first."

Of course, the best defense is not having a brush fire start at all. Officials want you to be aware when sparks could fly from a grill or landscaping equipment, and always be diligent when extinguishing controlled fires.

The Department of Environmental Conservation issues a burn ban for the state of New York each year -- it runs through May 14. Until then, you are not allowed to burn any of the leaves and brush in your yard.


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