Engine Crew & the Fire Cache
The Fire Cache is a place—a storage cache of tools and equipment—and the people who run it are the crew of Engine 15. Long before the snow melted and the trees sent out their first leaf buds for this fire season, the crew was busy at park headquarters putting together the tools and equipment that would support the Canadian Top controlled burn. The engine crew is based in the Smokies and their primary duty is this park, although they sometimes support Fire Management activities in other parks around the Southeast region as well.
The members of the engine crew lead firefighters to put out local fires that start, as well as coordinate logistics—supplies, vehicles, locations of crews and engines—on larger wildfires and controlled burns. The fire cache works hand in hand with local and state fire departments to keep the wildland environment—a term that describes undeveloped land—safer when uncontrolled fires break out. The engine crew not only provides and maintains all of the gear and equipment necessary for fire management activities, but they also service two remote-automated weather stations in the park that help fire managers know how they can expect fire to behave. Fire “behavior” includes how it burns across a landscape as the wind pushes it along, as humidity makes it flare up or die down, and as rain or sun affect it.
Did You Know?
The park’s high elevation heath balds are treeless expanses where dense thickets of shrubs such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, and sand myrtle grow. Known as “laurel slicks” and “hells” by early settlers, heath balds were most likely created by forest fires long ago. More...