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July 27, 2012

Safety

McCoy implements precautions to prevent wildfires from spreading

Story & photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Measures are in place to protect Fort McCoy from wildfires as the installation experiences a very dry summer. Many neighboring counties and communities have burning bans in effect.

Fort McCoy Fire Chief David Biondi said open burning, including recreational fire pits, is prohibited except at Pine View Campground and the Whitetail Ridge Ski Area.
PHOTO: Signs in front of the Range Management facility and the Fire Department indicate the fire danger for that day. Photo by Rob Schuette
Signs in front of the Range Management facility and the Fire Department indicate the fire danger for that day. Fort McCoy has seen many days posted as very high or higher.

This permanent policy also applies to the installation’s training ranges and areas, Biondi added.

Members of the Fort McCoy community are encouraged to be extra vigilant about fireworks use and the proper disposal of combustible or smoking material, he said.

“Everyone must ensure that all smoking material is discarded safely in cigarette-butt receptacles or other non-combustible containment devices,” Biondi said. “The lack of rain in recent weeks has produced extremely dry conditions in area grasslands and woodlands, lawns and shrubbery, which poses an increased risk of damage by wildfires.”

Wildfire prevention efforts also are being employed at other levels throughout the installation.

Larry Levasseur, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Range Operations officer, said Fort McCoy Regulation 350-1 specifies the rules and regulations governing training on the ranges, including weapons firing, and measures to prevent wildfires.

Prior to the use of any fire-producing pyrotechnics, smoke grenades, smoke pots, trip flares, star clusters, tracers, etc., units must obtain the current fire-danger classification from Range Operations and determine any restrictions, he said.

Range Operations receives this information from the installation Fire Department. Signs that list the current fire danger also are posted and updated at the Range Management Branch, building, 2954, and at the Fire Department, building 1680.

Failure to follow the restrictions of the fire code can result in fires, lost training time, and potentially, unnecessary expenses for units conducting training, Levasseur said.

“Anybody with any questions can contact the radio room or me,” Levasseur said. “The restrictions are put into place to help prevent fires and to protect the troops from being exposed to a potential wildfire.”

Jim Kerkman, the Fort McCoy forester, said prescribed burning is used to help reduce the risk of wildfires, among other purposes.

Prescribed burning generally is done during the spring and fall when conditions are most favorable, he said.

For more information about fire regulations at Fort McCoy, contact the Fire Department at 608-388-2508. Troops training at Fort McCoy should contact Range Operations via radio or by calling 608-388-3721/4142/4320.

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