(Posted June 14, 2012 at 5:35 p.m.) The 257 Fire is burning 3 miles south of Superior on the Tonto National Forest. It is 2,860 acres and is 75 percent contained.
Firefighters continued mop up operations along much of the fire line today. The most active area remains the northeast corner where heavy fuels and rugged terrain create difficult conditions for firefighters. High temperatures and low relative humidity, typical of central Arizona in June, cause an additional risk for firefighters, heat related injury. In the event of a heat related injury or any other injury requiring quick evacuation, the Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter will provide extraction and transport for firefighters.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter, known and the DPS Ranger, has the unique ability to perform evacuations in rugged remote areas where wildfires often occur. This capability is an important safety factor for firefighters working on the fire line. Without the DPS Ranger, an injured firefighter might need to be carried out by his fellow crew members. This in itself represents additional risk to an already hazardous job. Given the rough country where firefighters work, it can take hours just to get an injured firefighter to a location where an ambulance can then transport them to a hospital. If the injury is heat related, time is of the essence and a few minutes can make a big difference to the consequences of that injury.
Crews attached to a DPS Ranger unit receive a variety of specialized training. One technical skill, rappelling, allows officers to descend from the helicopter on ropes when conditions don’t allow a landing. They can then transport the victim under the helicopter in a Bauman Bag with the trained paramedic crewmember hanging next to him providing care. This specialized rescue extraction technique is called short hauling. The name results from the fact that this technique is used for transporting the injured the shortest possible distance to the closest safe landing zone. The victim may then be taken on to the hospital by ambulance. Ranger pilots can also land the helicopter in tight spaces where other helicopters cannot land. This makes the DPS Ranger the perfect tool for emergency evacuation of firefighters with serious or critical medical injures.
Arizona Department of Public Safety maintains four Ranger bases around the state in Kingman, Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff. This allows quick response time wherever the Ranger is needed. The public service mission of DPS Ranger program includes response to medical emergencies, search and rescue, and law enforcement. Besides their other certifications and trainings, each crew member is a state certified law enforcement officer through the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy.
Given the high temperatures and steep rugged terrain that characterizes the 257 Fire, the availability of the DPS Ranger to firefighters has been vital in battling this fire with safety first in mind. The specialized capabilities of the DPS Ranger provides a service to fire crews not otherwise available in such a quick response time.
The DPS Ranger has many specialized capabilities that can benefit fire management personnel including reconnaissance, bucket operations, night medivacs and law enforcement support. DPS Ranger has assisted local, state and federal agencies throughout Arizona for many years and is continuing to do so.
Start date: June 10, 2012
Cause: Under Investigation
Fuels: Brush, Manzanita, Oak
Terrain: Steep, rugged
Resources: 8 crews, 4 engines, 5 water tenders
Total personnel: 422
Available air support: 6 helicopters, 3 air tankers
(Source: Central West Zone Incident Management Team)