SLC firefighters aggressively preparing for wildfire season

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Fire Department is gearing up for wildfire season through training, community outreach and new fire suppression equipment.

“We  take these risks very seriously,” said Fire Chief Ryan Mellor, of the Department’s Community Relations Division, in a news release issued earlier this week . “The ever-increasing wildfire risks in our area –due to years of serious drought conditions – make us more vulnerable than ever.”

As part of its preparations for wildfire season, the department has purchased a new "Type-6 Wildland" fire engine designed for use in fighting wildfires.

"It’s a versatile vehicle that can access brush fires or complicated urban rescues, such as wounded or stranded hikers. The Type-6 can easily handle uneven, difficult terrain, maneuver narrow passages, and withstands complicated slopes. In addition, the department hopes to purchase an additional Type-6 engine sometime within the next year," the news release said.

SLCFD also has two new portable water tanks, called "pumpkin tanks" for their bright orange color, that can hold 6,000 gallons of water each. The pumpkin tanks can be quickly moved by trailer and placed in areas convenient for use by aerial fire crews.

"The faster we can have this water supply set up for our helicopters, the faster we can get assets over the fire," said Tom Simons, Salt Lake City Fire Department Emergency Management.

Salt lake City firefighters participated in training on the Type-6 and the pumpkin tanks Thursday in the foothills above 18th Ave and 600 E.

According to Simons, the fire department will likely have a temporary helicopter operations base at that location during wildfire season.

"If we have a fire in the hills, they'll be coming here for water," Simons said.

Earlier this month, firefighters visited homeowners in the Federal Heights neighborhood, in what is called the Wildland Urban Interference Zone, where homes are built near or among lands that are prone to wildfire. During those visits, the homeowners received information and advice on preventing wildfires.

“The goal is to ensure that every resident in a high-risk area has a clear understanding of the biggest risks and best responses,” said Fire Marshall Paul Paulson in the news release. “We’ve learned a lot from the wildfires of years past, and there is, without question, a lot residents can do to prevent or quickly stop wildfires.”

Similar visits are planned for the Chandler Drive/Avenues area on June 2, and the Tomahawk Drive area on June 9.