HOUSTON -Firefighters from (District 14) Deployable Operations Group – All Hazard-Wildland Team recently completed a busy month of training. Members attended the Texas A&M Forest Service Wildland & Incident Management Academy in Bastrop, Texas and the South-Central Branch Field Day held in Fulshear, Texas. The Houston Fire Department is part of the South-Central Branch of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) which is composed of 13 counties. Training included Incident Management down to basic practices. This week, three members participated in a 48-hour exercise held in Santo, Texas covering the Rapid Extrication Module and Fireline Medic Program where the members trained to extricate injured firefighters.
The Wildland program and the decision to participate in the TIFMAS was approved by Fire Chief Samuel Peña last year and is headed by District Chief Charles Martin under the Operations Command led by Assistant Chief Herbert Griffin. TIFMAS is the same organization that assisted HFD and many others during Hurricane Harvey. TIFMAS was formed by the State of Texas in 2007 and was first deployed during Hurricane Ike a year later. It’s primary duty is responding to all hazard responses around the state such as tropical systems and when needed provide a Wildland fire component to assist the Texas A&M Forest Service when state resources are exhausted.
“Participation in TIFMAS benefits our entire region by establishing pre-positioned resources and surge capacity for state hazard and wildland fire response needs. Quick mobilization can occur where local resources have been exhausted or additional resources are needed beyond our local capacity. In addition, the experience and training our personnel receive while working alongside other fire departments is invaluable and makes our department better for it,” Sam Peña, Houston Fire Chief.
HFD’s team consist of 40 members of which 21 have wildland personal protection equipment. The first deployment occurred in November 2018 with Houston sending two members to the Woolsey Fire in California. Team members are required to have Basic Wildland Certification, pass a yearly refresher, and an Arduous Pack Test. Internally, members must take classes in weather, intermediate wildland firefighting, and small pump operations.