Adopted June, 2006 – Revised March 12, 2008
I. Purpose and Intent
A. The purpose is to aid Fire Chiefs in the Pinelands area to develop six (6) WUI alarm assignments for their area by establishing a common framework throughout the County. Alarm assignments should consist of six or seven pieces of apparatus per alarm. In some cases, the alarm size could change due to the population in their area.
B. Backfilling of apparatus committed to the WUI shall be accomplished by the use of a Regional Cover assignment, utilizing established taskforces for this purpose.
II. Standard Operating Practices
A. Apparatus resources generally will be organized into either Strike Teams or Task Forces; and assigned to Operational Divisions that are geographic parts of the wildfire (e.g., head fire, right or left flanks, or specific streets).
B. It is the responsibility of the Division Supervisor to assure that all exposures in their assigned area are covered.
C. Typically, an apparatus protecting a structure during a wildland fire will be in one position during operations for a short period of time.
D. The task of the apparatus crew is to keep the approaching wildland fire out of the structure, then move on to the next assignment.
E. Always position your apparatus and go in service, during wildland structural fire protection operations, to be able to cease operations rapidly and escape from the approaching wildland fire with your apparatus and crew.
F. Avoid water supply connections to other apparatus or hydrants, unless absolutely necessary. This refers to all water supply operations.
G. Decisions may have to be made to "lose" a structure to the wildland fire for safety reasons. The safety of the apparatus and crews cannot be jeopardized.
H. Always limit the amount of stretched hose from an apparatus during operations to the shortest overall length possible.
I. Wildland fire situation may take extensive time to control and extinguish. The issue of "relief' for crews and apparatus must be part of the IAP. This subject is addressed in the "Relief Guideline".
J. All apparatus will leave a 1/4 tank of water available to protect it and crew.
K. The pump operator will have a pre-connected 50' section of handline to protect the apparatus.
A. When the Fire Chief or Forest Fire Service arrives on location and they are confronted with a fast moving fire and they feel that the local response will not be sufficient, a call to Central Communications will activate the first alarm from the WUI assignment for his or her area.
B. The Burlington County fire service provides structure and improved property fire protection and suppression services during a wildland fire.
C. The New Jersey Forest Fire Service is in command of a wildland fire incident.
IV. Command Post
A. A Unified Command Post (i.e. structural protection and Forest Fire Service) will be established.
B. The Fire Chief of the local jurisdiction(s) or a qualified person designated by the Fire Chief shall staff unified Command. A qualified person is defined as another Fire Chief, Fire Officer, Fire Marshal, or a Fire Coordinator whom is acting for the local Fire Chief in his or her absence or as designated by the local Fire Chief
C. The Burlington County Special Operations CP15 vehicle shall be dispatched on all WUI assignments and in most cases act as the Incident Command Post (ICP).
V. Support Agencies
A. Many other jurisdictional and requested agencies may be responding to the incident. These agencies include but are not limited to the Office of Emergency Management, local and county coordinators, police, fire police, EMS, Red Cross, support services (e.g. Food and fuel), media, government agencies (NJDFS State Fire Coordinator, DEP - Parks), and military resources. A Unified Command Post is critical to maintain control, provide direction, maintain a safe operating environment, and make overall progress.
B. The Fire Coordinator or designee at a minimum with the assistance of the County Incident Support Team will provide support in the following areas:
1. Aid Command in securing the necessary fire suppression resources for the incident.
2. Assist with documentation, tracking and accountability of fire service assets and personnel assigned to the incident.
3. Provide support personnel to work as aids to the Section Chiefs, Branch Directors or supervisors as needed. (see example in chart below)
4. Insure that regional cover assignments are implemented.
5. Liaison with Regional and State Fire Coordinator along with NJFFS personnel.
** note – arrows depict focused lines of communication
C. Burlington County's North and Northwest Region (Non-Pineland) fire services may be called upon to provide fire, rescue, non-emergency services, and WUI support to those stations committed to the wildland fire structural protection.
D. Fire Police: will respond to staging for their assignments.
E. EMS: will respond to staging for their assignment.
A. It is critical that a staging area be established as soon as possible. All incoming apparatus will report to the Staging Area Manager and complete check-in procedures. A list of personnel and equipment must be given to the Staging Area Manager.
1. The Level II staging areas have been predetermined. See attachment B. They are listed by their district number. Circumstances may necessitate designating other areas
B. Strike Teams/-Task Force: will be made up from the equipment that comes into the staging area. Once a team gets established, they will await an assignment before being sent out into the field with their Strike Team or Taskforce Leader.
VII. Dispatching Guideline
A. Apparatus will be dispatched using the term "Interface Assignment"
B. Apparatus will be dispatched to a staging area or base location. The Incident Action Plan (IAP) Function, approved by the OIC, determines this location.
C. Apparatus will be assembled in the Staging Area and assigned using ICS terminology. Examples are Task Forces, Strike Teams, or single resources.
D. The 6 pre-planned WUI alarms for each Pineland grid are designed for a response within Burlington County.
E. Requests from another County for a significant organized WUI response from Burlington County will be accomplished by dispatching from the preplanned WUI alarm hierarchy of one of the Pineland grids.
F. Requests from another County for specific stations or apparatus will be dispatched normally.
G. The Burlington County Fire Coordinator and staff shall be notified by Central when a WUI incident is developing within or near Burlington County. The notification must be made as soon as possible or no later than the Command request for the 1st WUI Alarm.
H. Once another county makes a request for our WUI mutual aid, the County Fire Coordinator shall be notified. He/She will instruct Central to dispatch the equipment as needed. All units will then proceed to the in-county Staging Area. Once all units are assembled and checked in, they will then proceed as a group to the other county's Staging Area.
VIII. Radio Guideline
A. Radio traffic must be kept to an absolute minimum. When directions are needed, it should be requested by telephone prior to leaving the station. Companies responding to staging or cover-up will be directed by Central as to which response channel to set the radio. Once assigned to a strike team or taskforce the radio can be switched to the assigned channel. Only the Strike Team or Taskforce Leader will communicate with the Command Post.
B. The County Field Communications Unit (FC15) shall be dispatched on all WUI assignments. It shall be placed in close proximity to CP15 and the NJFFS Command Post vehicle.
C. Once FC15 has setup on location, all apparatus after signing on resonding with Central, shall be instructed to communicate with the “Field Com” in place of Central for the remainder of the incident.
D. On out of county responses, Central Dispatch will assign a channel for the responding units.
E. Central shall designate a command channel to be used by the chiefs and coordinators from the command post to Central and from the command post to Staging.
F. Section Chiefs, Branch Directors shall have a dedicated channel for communications among each other. Another channel shall be dedicated for the suppression forces to operate on. See sample Coms Plan:
IX. Personal Safety Guideline
A. The personal safety of the firefighters at an "Interface" incident is of primary importance.
B. Firefighters are required to wear approved personal protection equipment during an "Interface" response and when in-service. If wildfire-rated gear is utilized, it should not be used if structural firefighting becomes necessary.
C. One self-contained breathing apparatus, plus one (1) spare bottle for each pack, is required for each firefighter responding to an "Interface" incident. This includes the driver on the apparatus.
D. Each apparatus responding to an interface incident ideally should have a crew of 4 to 5 firefighters. Crew size of engines must not exceed the capacity of the enclosed or covered cab.
E. All firefighters shall limit their exposure to a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident during an "Interface" incident by standing clear of roadways, as much as possible. Visibility for apparatus operators in a wildland fire is very limited. All apparatus moving through conditions of poor visibility must have all warning lights activated, including headlights.
F. Firefighters shall limit their exposure to exhaustion, dehydration and injury by using their training, common sense and good judgment. See the "Relief Guideline".
G. Every officer and firefighter responding to an "Interface" incident must use an approved accountability procedure. The 'head count" of each apparatus must be given to the Staging Area Manager when it arrives at the Staging Area. The Staging Area Manager must report this information to the Command Post or Resource Unit Leader.
H. If an apparatus must leave the incident for any reason, the head count of the crew must be taken. The Strike Team Leader must be advised. The Strike Team Leader will notify the Command Post through the chain of command.
I. Every apparatus operator must use extreme caution during his/her response. Responding and arriving safely with your crew is very important.
J. All firefighters committed to operations must have an escape route to a safety zone, if their position becomes undefendable or at risk to entrapment by the flame front.
K. Although this plan is directed at property protection, public safety is a higher priority. Firefighters must watch out for the need for road closures and civilian evacuations, and alert the responsible emergency management or other responsible agencies. On-scene firefighters may be in the best position to determine if the public can be safely protected-in-place at defensible locations, or require warnings and evacuations.
X. Apparatus Guideline
A. The primary piece of apparatus needed for an "Interface" assignment is a Type I Engine. The primary function of the engine is structural protection. The unit I.D. number (readable from the air) should be on cab/body of roof or hosebed cover. The number(s) should be of reflective material at least 1ft. high. There is a need for other types of apparatus. Examples are: Tenders, brush units, and support units.
1. Should have a minimum of 750-gallon water tank and must be able to draft.
B. Apparatus may be positioned in tight areas with limited visibility. Structures in wildland areas may be located to make apparatus placement difficult. Narrow twisting sand roads and driveways, obstructed with low overhanging trees, side overhanging bushes, or trees close to the road make access and escape difficult.
C. Apparatus must be capable to maneuvering for a quick escape.
D. Factors affecting and limiting apparatus operation are overall height, overall length, gross weight and turning radius.
E. Any type equipment will be used in the time of need. The intent here is to accent the most appropriate equipment be used, if possible. All responding apparatus, except support units, must be capable of drafting and have all equipment necessary to draft.
F. Apparatus responding to an "Interface" incident must carry a minimum of one current Burlington County road map.
XI. Specialized Apparatus:
A. Water Tenders – Shall be Type I and have a minimum of 2500 gallons of water and a pump rated at least 400 G.P.M.
B. Brush Units - a four wheel drive Type VI Engine with a water tank and pump used to maneuver in and around narrow driveways where an engine cannot fit.
C. Support Units - could consist of a command post, cascade, lighting, food, or any other duty assigned by the OIC.
D. Apparatus should have minimal restrictions on maneuverability, flexibility and operation.
XII. Relief Guideline
A. To provide for the organized transition of furnishing relief crews during prolonged WUI assignments. Placing emphasis upon maintaining consistent operations and the proper accountability of all responding personnel.
1. Relief crews will be ordered based on the IAP approved by Command for the next operational period. Typically relief will be provided in six (6) hour intervals, commencing with the dispatch time of a specific company.
2. It will be the responsibility of the Station Officer to organize and provide the necessary relief crew. This will consist of a member for member replacement.
3. By monitoring the progress of the fire or contacting the Central Communications, the Station Officer will verify the need for a relief crew on or about the fifth hour of operations, and prior to dispatching his/her relief crew.
4. When it has been determined that a relief crew will be needed, the Station Officer will assemble and dispatch his/her relief crew in a timely manner. This should be done so that the crew will reach the command post as close to the sixth hour mark as possible.
5. When possible, a fire department vehicle will be utilized to conduct the transfer of personnel. Those departments who do not have a vehicle capable of handling multiple passengers are urged to seek help from a nearby department who could provide such transportation.
6. Relief crews will respond at NON-EMERGENCY SPEED.
7. All relief crews will respond directly to Level II Staging. They will report to the Staging Area Manager who will insure personnel and equipment are properly checked-in to the incident. The Staging Area Manager will coordinate the physical exchange of personnel on the fire grounds with the CP.
8. Relieved crews will report to the Demobilization Unit Leader to be checked out from the incident. They should immediately return to their home venues, so as to maintain reasonable response levels, within their respective communities during these periods of prolonged WUI operations.
XIII. Training Guideline
A. Training for officers and firefighters is highly recommended to participate in a wildland urban interface incident.
B. Initial and recurring training will be conducted by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. The Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center will work in conjunction with NJFSS to provide training opportunities. The NJFFS class "Fire Operations in the Interface", is the required class.
C. Refresher training should be accomplished annually.
D. The chief officer in each station or department is responsible to assure this training is accomplished and properly documented.
E. Ideally, each firefighter and officer on each apparatus responding to an "Interface" incident has received the required training.
F. Specialized Training in development shall be required for those officers assigned as Task Force or Strike Team Leaders. The Fire Coordinator shall maintain a Cadre of Officers meeting this requirement.
XIV. Out of County Response
A. Burlington County will have a WUI out of county response. See Attachment C for responses. Responding companies will be put into Strike Teams or Taskforces. The Fire Coordinator will establish pre-determined Taskforces and Strike Teams.
B. A WUI Taskforce will consist of the following equipment: five (5) Type I Engines, one (1) Type I Water Tenders.