The United States experienced a record-breaking season for wildfires in 2021. This year, sooner than any year previously recorded, wildfires began ravaging the country in January and February. Historically, wildfires did not ramp up until May or June because the grasses and brush that fuel the fires are not fully dried out until late spring. However, the National Interagency Fire Center reports that as of May 12, over 23,800 fires have burnt over 1.2 million acres in the first five months of the year, already exceeding previous records.
Experts explain that the root cause for these early fires is climate change, which increases temperatures, and results in snow melting earlier. Therefore, grasses dry out more quickly. Another contributing factor is stronger winds that carry the fires further at a swifter pace. A flourishing monsoon season last year also created an abundance of grass and vegetation that ultimately left more material to fuel the fires once it dried out.
While wildfires can hardly be avoided, being prepared is the key to limiting operational impact. Based on the increased numbers of fires occurring outside of the typical season, it is now vital to be ready for wildfires all year around. Government-provided resources used for general wildfire response cannot keep up with the demand for firefighters and equipment. Therefore, business continuity greatly depends on the preparations and planning put in place ahead of time.
There are many ways to prepare, including understanding the risk and what actions to take to protect your assets and workforce. But the most critical step in the preparation process is selecting a response provider that has the experience to customize an emergency response plan that suits the needs of your organization and has the resources and the manpower to respond quickly and efficiently when time is of the essence.
US Ecology has 30 years of emergency response experience backed by 70 years of environmental services leadership. Our expert emergency response teams stand ready nationwide to support customers in various industries with the development of custom emergency response plans that are tailored to each customer’s specific needs. With a primary goal of protecting your workforce and the environment while limiting risk and operational impact, our team of experts will get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.
While we apply our knowledge and expertise to any sector, the rail industry in the U.S and Canada is particularly vulnerable to wildfire due to its large infrastructure that is mostly remote and often hard to reach. Structures like trestles, snowsheds, communications/operations buildings, tunnels and bridges are damaged, railroads are forced to shut down operations, interrupting interstate commerce for extended periods of time. That’s why the rail industry has strategically invested in preparedness and structure protection by partnering with SRS, a US Ecology company.
Our expertly trained team works all year around, beginning with risk assessment, followed by the development of tailored emergency response plans. We then build out equipment packages including custom built trailers in various sizes that are set up where wildfires are most likely to come through.
As many sites are remote, we build high rail equipment like brush trucks and rail skids that are specifically designed to go on a train to reach places that are only accessible via rail.
During the active wildfire season, we support our customers with infrastructure protection and firefighting services. We stand ready 24/7 and quickly mobilize the right resources wherever they are needed.
We track the development of all major wildfires using forecasting technology that helps us to determine where to apply water and resources before the fire pushes through to ensure protection. Over the years, fires have become more and more unpredictable. In order to protect structures and critical infrastructure, we utilize multiple tried and true prevention measures as well as incorporating sprinklers and wetting agents outfitted with wireless technology to activate remotely.
The importance of preparedness will only increase in the coming years, as current trends suggest both rising numbers and intensity levels for wildfires. With these elevated numbers in mind, US Ecology continuously develops new strategies and solutions to aid in the protection of our customers’ assets.
Additionally, we support customers in the aftermath of an event, managing the removal and disposal of all wildfire debris and safely handle and securely dispose of all hazardous material. With this single-source approach we build turnkey packages for our customers that offer the convenience and limited risk of using one partner to prepare, protect and recover. Contact Us to learn more about US Ecology’s wildfire preparedness services.
For immediate emergency response assistance, call (800) 899-4672.