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Managing Wildfires with Prescribed Fire | Your Story

Most people think there’s just one type of
firefighter: your traditional structure firefighters that will go to your house every day if you
have a fire or a medical call. But that’s not the case throughout Florida,
especially South Florida. I’m a wildland firefighter. We get called all over for any wildland fire. We not only just fight fires, but we do prescribed
fires also to help clean out the land. Fire in the Pine Rockland kind of acts similar
to winter up North. In the winter, in the northern United States,
the cold temperatures kill back a lot of the vegetation, and then you have a flush of new
growth and flowering in the spring. We don’t really have cold winters down here,
that affects the vegetation like that. So Florida Forest Service decides to do prescribed
burns at areas that we had bad fires in the past couple of years, and areas that there’s
a lot of exotics and a lot of understory in there. We’ll go out and clear out the area. If you don’t burn these Pine Rocklands often enough the vegetation tends to grow up, and get taller, and
thicker, and you end up with too much fuel and you have the potential for a hazardous
wildfire. Miami-Dade County partners with the Florida
Forest Service because the county owns many Pine Rocklands dotted all over Miami-Dade
County, and it’s more than the Forestry Department could handle on their own. So we provide extra staff that makes it able
for them to do these burns. So the risks of doing a prescribed fire, it’s
just like any other fire. It is high, but at this point, you know, it’s a lot of teamwork. A lot of communication goes on, and the whole
time we’re doing this, every hour we’re talking weather, so if any little wind changes, you
know we have to pay attention to that, and we might have to stop the burn. So we’re always watching out for each other. It’s a lot of being patient, slowing down,
taking your time, and looking out for everybody. I think the risk of wildfires is higher in
Florida because we could burn all year-round, compared to other states it might be seasonal. And we’re all built up here, especially in
Broward and Miami-Dade that we have homes built around all these parks and woodland
areas. So the risk goes up big time. Miami-Dade county is a highly urbanized environment, with small, fragmented Pinelands dotted all over the county. Wildfire is more of an issue for the human
population surrounding these areas because these Pine Rocklands are going to burn whether
we’d like them to or not. So it’s better if we proactively do these
prescribed burns, when we’re doing it under out parameters, when we have lots of crew
and people out here, rather than have to come out in an emergency situation, and respond to a wildfire.

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