(Chadron)-Dawes County Commissioner Stacy Swinney recognized the tremendous effort by the road department crew that were involved in the Ash Creek Fire. At their Wednesday morning meeting, Swinney said the crews worked many hours, and did things way beyond their job description in preventing spread of fire. He also pointed out that they voluntarily offered their manpower, and were not required to do so.
Board member Jake Stewart stated the whole road crew was involved in some manner. One person was even called in from vacation, and many went 24/7 during the firefighting process. Swinney said that after the incident was wrapped up, he believed authorities should talk about coordinating with forest service better. He stated that there were some hard feelings at first when it came to coordination efforts, and he would like to have committee set up to coordinate with forest service when they arrive on scene to work together to fight fires.
University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension Agent for Dawes County Scott Cotton said there is a multi agency coordinating system, and he could help provide training. He mentioned that Nan Gould with Region 23 Emergency Management and the fire departments would also have to be engaged in the process. Dawes County Deputy Attorney Adam Edmund, who is a volunteer firefighter in Harrison, said that fire departments are aware of this already. Swinney feels there is a need to change cooperative efforts.
Stewart stated that there are different landowners each time there is a fire and different incident commanders each time as well, which means differing ideas for each individual situation. Edmund stated that landowners generally want the fire put out, while often times the forest service usually wants the fire to burn itself out, as he has found from his experience in firefighting. He also stated that Gould is very good at keeping lines of communication open.
When bringing up the subject of different federal resources that are sometimes brought in to assist with the larger fires, Cotton said it is up to local authorities to relinquish command to type 3, 2 or 1 teams. But then the efforts fall under incident command structure of federal government. Edmund said with those teams that do come in, they will try to work with the local crews. No action was taken after the discussion wrapped up.
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