Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ready, Aim, FIRE!!!

Well, we had our first wildfire of the year this week.

We had just gotten home from moving our vacas around, and I'd just woken up from my nap, when dad called and said there was a fire up on the range. The BLM'd given him a call and were all frantic wondering if we wanted to come up and move our cattle out of the way of the fire.

So we got in the pickup and headed back up on the mountain to see how dire the situation was. I decided to take along the ol' camera, but unlike KTM, I wasn't scared to get real pictures of the fire. :P It looked like there were a few good ones, but it's hard to tell from the little screen on the back of the camera. Once I get them on the ol' comp, I'll post a few of the better ones.

Here's the best part. The fire season's getting pretty close to ending, and there haven't been any major blazes, so they're milking the one's they've got for all they're worth. Let me explain...

Each year the government agencies get budgeted a yearly sum to operate on. As most of them are superfluous positions, they tend to have budget cuts and whatnot. At least they're always pleading poverty to us, but I digress. Anyway, fires are not a budgeted expense, or to use their terms, fires are "off budget". Here's what that means to you lay people -- fire crews have an unlimited budget. The amount of money spent is proportional to the severity of the fire. Do you see the problem with this type of allocation? A small fire that gets extinguished right away only costs a few thousand bucks, but a small fire that "gets away from them" and turns into a major fire can be worth millions. And they're really good at it. So good, that there's never any evidence of negligence. It was a "breakdown in the chain of command", or some other such nebulous reason, but the result is always the same. When they need paid, the fire gets coincidentally larger. :shrug:

Now we get to our little fire. Once we got up there, it had burned about 300 acres max and it could have been contained right then and there. They had 2 airplanes dropping retardant at $5000 per dump. While we watched they dropped 3 loads, and we were only there for 30 minutes or so. Then just as we left, a helicopter crew flew in and unloaded their firecrew, and started running water back and forth to the smolders. Helicopters run about $500-800 per hour. This was Monday. The helicopter was still shuttling water today at 4:00. I think you can all see where this is going. I'd wager they're up to at least half a million, and I'm still not sure it's "out" yet. If they play their cards right, this can keep them on hazard pay for at least another 3 or 4 days.

There ya' go. Your tax dollars in action.


Blogger trinamick said...

Hey now! They blocked off the roads, so I couldn't get fire pics. The only people getting good shots were on the fire crew, or a news crew following our idiot governor. Hmph.

I suppose you didn't even bake cookies for the firefighters. Just sad...

8/10/2006 9:27 AM  
Anonymous bc said...

Well I hope that their little "game" doesnt affect your cattle.

8/10/2006 12:39 PM  
Blogger fermicat said...

Holy perverse incentives, Batman! Reminds me of the way consultants get paid...

8/10/2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger LL said...

I guess a poor excuse is better than none.

Does it count that my mom made cookies for us?

BC, all of their little games effect our cattle in one way or another.

fermi, that's one of the many I can tell you about. Do you still wonder why I'm cynical about the government?

8/10/2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

Do you still wonder why I'm cynical about the government?

Oh. I thought it was just because they are out to get you.

8/11/2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger LL said...

Nonononono... That's why I'm paranoid.

8/11/2006 8:42 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

"BC, all of their little games effect our cattle in one way or another."

I know that but I would hate for something to happen to them thats beyond anyones control.

I know what the gov is doing and you know my opinion on that too.

8/11/2006 10:51 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I learn so much when I come here. Take this subject for instance, I had NO idea about any of this -- hazard pay, the sky's the limit budget. Truly disheartening. I always think of the fire department as heroes, end of story. =(

8/12/2006 8:52 AM  
Blogger LL said...

Well... I can assuage you a bit here Beth. This isn't your local firehouse being called in to action. This a the United States Government firecrews. They don't run into buildings save burning kittens. Their only job is to put out range fires. Mostly they're college students and such and it's a summer job. There are a few that have made it an occupation, but...

8/12/2006 5:48 PM  
Blogger LL said...

"This a the United States Government firecrews."

Wow... that's a good example of terrible grammar. Let's try that again...

These are the United States' Firecrews.

8/12/2006 5:49 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Actually, they're a bit like that with snow removal here in Massachusetts. One winter it hardly snowed at all, then one day we got a dusting. Out came a veritable armada of snow plows all vying for their piece of the 3 snowflakes that fell. Yep, our tax dollars at work.

8/13/2006 9:55 AM  

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