As we saw this past summer, hot, dry, and windy weather conditions are factors that directly affect fire risk and behavior.
“Being aware of the weather conditions before, during, and after an incident is imperative,” quotes columnist Chuck Sallade in Firefighter Nation. Real-time, location-specific met data is imperative for safe and effective incident response. Weather monitoring assists in multiple areas such as risk management, prediction, safety, plume modeling, and reporting.
Each heading unpacks how weather monitoring is useful in each of five areas of emergency response.
#1: Risk Management
Weather data is a key component of RISK assessment and management from the planning/preparation stages, PPE and resource management, to decisions regarding public safety such as shelter-in-place or evacuate. Utilize weather data in these phases:
~Evaluate historic weather conditions for planning/preparation ~Assess current response conditions (normal and/or severe weather) for transport and approach ~Monitor for changing meteorological conditions throughout an incident
An example cited by Battalion Chief Henry Costo in Fire Rescue Magazine: “No PPE risk assessment would be complete without adequate consideration of a jurisdiction’s prevailing climate and weather conditions, as well as the potential for extremes of temperature, humidity, wind, rain, storms, flooding, snow accumulations, ice, etc. Keep in mind that many jurisdictions experience significant weather variations even within their own boundaries—such as the beaches vs. inland areas of San Diego and Los Angeles counties.”*
Weather stations from Columbia Weather Systems ( https://columbiaweather.com ) are a force multiplier — offering automated met data collection and archiving in addition to monitoring current conditions. Whether from a fixed-base system at the Fire Station or Dispatch Center, a vehicle-mount weather station on the Incident Command Vehicle, or a portable weather station for HazMat, met data can be a key piece of the risk management puzzle.
*Costo, Henry. (2012, April). Elements of a PPE Risk Assessment, Fire Rescue Magazine.