Thursday, July 23, 2015

FIRE CAMP--BEHIND THE SCENES



While I'm leaving the photography of the fire itself to the professionals with the credentials and long lenses, I can report that according to Sarah Foster, a spokesperson at incident command, "the fire has grown to the southeast, and one goal is to stop it before it gets to the Umatilla National Forest." She added that as of Wednesday morning, it has engulfed 5,500 acres making it the highest priority fire in the Northwest.

That said, I took a trip out to the Fire Camp on Tuesday afternoon at Walla Walla Community College to see what goes on behind the scenes. Fire camps are little cities set up to coordinate a wide range of support and fire suppression efforts.

Case in point: Mobile shower trucks provide all the comforts of home (almost) to the weary and dirty firefighters and other support staff in the command center.


Eight sinks with soap, mirrors and paper towels provide a place for a quick clean up or a post-shower shave or primp.


Camera-shy shower manager Amanda was not shy about pointing out the luxuries of her shower truck. She proudly showed me the four women's showers particularly noting the stools and the mirrored vanity exclusive to the women's side. The men's side has four more showers for a total of eight but only a bench. Sorry guys!


Just like home, mobile showers use a two-way water system, only the system is out in the open--potable water flows in to the showers through the big blue bladder . . .


. . . while the used grey water is collected in another bladder which is eventually taken to the wastewater treatment plant for proper disposal.

This mobile shower facility is from Bishop Services out of Goldendale, Washington and is under contract with the Forest Service to support fire camps such as this one at WWCC. By upgrading the overall incident management to Type 2, contractors like Bishop Services take over the support system that was initially handled by local vendors and volunteers.


At the time these photos were taken, Bishop Services was awaiting the arrival of their mobile catering truck that will take over feeding the growing number of firefighters and support personnel who were still arriving on site. (Photos to follow.)