“Discuss how prepared you feel your department is for the most serious risk identified by your community’s risk analysis.
The biggest risk identified in Japan that our Fire Department will have to deal with is a large Tsunami. This is common in Japan as the last one that happen was in 2011 and it whipped out a complete city. Tsunami’s happen with there is an earthquake and the Tsunami waves form. This can happen at any moments notice and here in Japan since the last big one happened the cities emergency responders have been preparing for the next big one. There is evacuation route signs posted everywhere that lead to the highest locations in the areas. There is a giant voice announcement that is given in Japanese and English on base. This lets everyone know that it is working and to they announce that this is a practice. In the event of a Tsunami happening there will be a loud voice announcement as well as bells. The emergency responders will have areas or responsibility they are in charge of. The Fire Department pays a large role in the Tsunami drills they run on and off base since they can provide search parties, first aide and fire fighting capabilities. Every month here in Japan the city practices a large scale drill somewhere in the city and both Japanese and Americans participate. There are stations for emergency kits that have water, first aid kits, blankets and can food. There is no telling how much supplies will be needed and when running the drills the coordinators ask the local communities to stock up on supplies. There are times when we do lose power here in Japan when the typhoons pick up and we have learned to keep emergency kits for those events. The typhoons will eventually pass by and the electricity will be back on but this could be different in the event of the Tsunami. The large waves can take down power poles or whip certain areas off completely with no time when the electricity will be back on. This is something the country of Japan is constantly preparing for.
The most serious risk for Beale Fire Department would have to be the 23,000 acres of mostly undeveloped land during the extended wildland fire season. The rolling hills on the installation make it relatively easy to negotiate, but extinguishment efforts can be strenuous due to the light flashy fuels rapid rate of spread. The department currently utilizes a pair of dated Type-3 engines that are showing visible signs of wear and are in dire need of replacement. Our department used to have a third Type-3 engine but was retired due to frame damage suffered during a wildland off of the installation. A replacement plan for this engine is currently in the works, but excessive bureaucracy threatens the allocation of a new vehicle. To overcome the loss of this engine, we heavily rely on our mutual aid partners to aid extinguishment efforts in the event of a wildland fire. Some wildland fires on the installation have grown so large that aircraft needed to be requested to drop fire retardant to control the fires forward progress. Fortunately, our most significant wildland fire this season was an 853-acre blaze that required firefighting resources from two different counties before the fire could be completely extinguished.
As far as preparedness, we conduct countless hours of specialized training prior to start of the wildland season to keep us ready. This involves everything from chainsaw awareness and fire shelter deployments, to progressive hose lays and firing operations. We also conduct a full inventory of our tools and equipment to check for serviceability and identify any deficiencies. This precaution helps to ensure that hose packs are correctly assembled, appliances work as designed, and hand tools are in good working order. Lastly, our personal protective equipment is washed, inspected for wear and tear, and distributed to everyone assigned to operations. This measure ensures that we have been given adequate protection from the dangers of wildland firefighting.