Fire Deployment Training Net Was Fun and Educational

Centralia ARES team members joined in a fire deployment training net held this evening on the K7CEM Repeater.  While no request has been made for any ARES assistance to any of the fires burning our state, the fire season is still two plus months away from ending.  The Okanogan Complex fire is Washington’s State’s largest fire in history and is currently listed as the number one priority fire in the United States.  It is currently increasing at a rate of 26 square miles per day and has already burned over 258,000 acres of wild land in Eastern Washington.  Thank you to the 1,345 volunteers and paid fire fighters working the line.

Our training net discussed the deployment process from request for assistance down through all the official channels to moving equipment and people across state to provide what help we can.  We talked about the differences between large fire responses across state to local fire help in our own county.  Training topics included safety, equipment, preparedness and fire dynamics.

The overall message was one of preparedness.  We are in one of the worst fire seasons ever in Washington State and not all the danger is across the mountains in Eastern Washington.  Preparing mentally to deploy, prepping your equipment, establishing a communications plan with family and friends so you can talk to them if you are gone for days or weeks and finally, filling that go-bag are important equipment and being ready to serve.

We’re a long way from the rainy season and it will probably get worse before it gets better.  Be ready to help your served agencies – in our case the City of Centralia and Riverside Fire Authority.  Mostly be prepared.  Better to unpack all that stuff in a few months (just in time for the flood season) and be thankful you didn’t need it.

Remember…. Amateur Radio is a hobby, Amateur Radio Emergency Services is a commitment!

Wildfire Deployment Training Net

As Washington residents work deep into this year’s wildfire season, our state is now fighting the largest wildfire in our state’s history.  The Okanogan Complex fire now covers over 400 square miles – more than 256,000 acres and is growing by an average of 26 square miles per day.  Currently around 1250 firefighters are battling this wildfire and it is only 10% contained.  Wildfire managers believe it will require another two months to bring the fire under control.  And this is only one of 27 wildfires in the state.

Emergency service agencies all across Washington are on alert in case they are needed.  While no request for assistance has been made of any Western Washington ARES teams, we remain vigilant.  Tuesday evening, the Centralia ARES team will conduct a training net on the K7CEM Repeater.  While there are no indications currently that our ARES team would be asked to assist, we will use this training net to discuss the preparation process, answer questions and work together as a team.

Join us this evening, 7:00pm, on the K7CEM Repeater.  While we hope we won’t be needed, we hope this training net will make us all better prepared.


LZ Drill in Washington State: Joint Emergency Exercises Work on a Small Scale


One hour before the Airlift Northwest medical helicopter was due to arrive, the rain was coming down so hard, cars were pulling off the streets because wipers couldn’t clear their windshields. The wind was gusting and heavy thunder shook the area. Yet, by 6:30 PM, the storm had cleared for the most part, and the training exercise began.

Riverside Fire Authority, Centralia (Washington) ARES, Lewis County 911 center and Airlift Northwest had planned this joint exercise for weeks. Several years earlier, Centralia ARES established eleven emergency helicopter landing zones (LZ) around the community of 16,000 located in southwest Washington State. The local hospital had been the only designated landing spot for medical helicopters, but the community is divided by two large rivers and Interstate 5. Any large earthquake would likely collapse all or most of the overpasses and bridges creating small pockets within the city that would be difficult to reach by normal disaster response services.

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