Bandelier National Monument and Beyond: Bandelier Fire Management in the Los Alamos Community

Bandelier Fire Management in the Los Alamos Community

Bandelier’s Engine Crew introduces students to the fire engine.
March 30th, 2015. Bandelier’s Engine Crew introduces students to the fire engine.

Hanna Davis / NPS

“Water: Where Does it Come From, and Where Does it Go?” This was the question posed to Los Alamos fourth grade students at the 2015 Water Day Festival organized by Pajarito Environmental Education Center.  

All two hundred and sixty-four of the district’s fourth graders were hosted at the University of New Mexico- Los Alamos campus for the two-day event held March 30-31st, 2015. Sponsored by the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities, eight different agencies and organizations, including Bandelier National Monument, the Bradbury Science Museum, and the Valles Caldera National Preserve, came together to teach students about various aspects of water, with a focus on water conservation.

In addition to learning about water conservation, students learned about the effects that water, or the lack of it, can have on the fire environment. Bandelier’s Fire Ecology Crew taught students about the influence of precipitation and relative humidity on wildfire and prescribed burning, and discussed how these weather conditions influenced the 2011 Las Conchas Fire. The fire burned over 156,000 acres in 2011 and the city of Los Alamos was evacuated.  Many of the students were able to recall their experiences during the Las Conchas fire while the Fire Ecology Crew discussed the extreme conditions that led to the high-severity fire.

Bandelier’s Fire Ecology Crew also discussed climate change and that it can cause hotter and drier conditions, influencing the way prescribed fires and wildfires will be managed in the future.  

One of the highlights of the festival was the hands-on demonstrations by Bandelier’s Engine Crew. The students were introduced to personal protective equipment including fire-resistant clothing and specialized boots and helmets, and were able to try on a 30lb pound wildland firefighting backpack. They also saw wildland firefighting tools, the fire engine, and practiced using a fire hose and deploying a fire shelter.

One of the teachers at the festival reported that “The students were attentive, smiling, laughing, and engaged during all of the classes. They all enjoyed the day very much.”

Bandelier’s Fire Management Program will participate in the Water Day Festival again On April 8th and 15th, 2016.

Contact: Laura Trader, Ecologist

Email: e-mail us

Phone: (505) 690-9436