By Anna Marie General, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs
With the end of the rainy season in Hawaii and beginning of summer, the chiefs of the Federal Fire Department (FFD) and Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) met May 29 to provide wildfire prevention tips to the public, discuss overall cooperation between FFD and HFD, and show how the two departments fight fires as a team.
Wildfire season started June 1.
Fletcher Dahman, regional fire chief of the Federal Fire Department, gave advice on how to protect homes from grass fire as temperatures begin to rise in Hawaii.
“We want you to create what we call a defensible space,” said Dahman. “For those of us who are in close house proximity to our neighbors, anything 10 to 15 feet is ideal. This needs to go away if you’ve got it. Anything around a propane, a barbecue, obviously we need you to clear that as much as you can. Dry leaves, any dead branches that may extend to the top of your house, those need to go away.”
Manny Neves, Honolulu Fire Department chief, asked for public awareness and vigilance.
“Most of our fires are started by human activity, usually accidental and in some cases we’ve seen a lot of malicious intent as far as starting our fires,” Neves said. “So when you are in and about the wildland, be careful when using smoking materials, lighters and matches. Also talk to your children about that as well.”
“As far as the malicious intent, we have to be vigilant in our community and if you see any suspicious activity, report that to the police by calling 911,” he added.
Under a signed agreement, fighting fires is a team effort for FFD and HFD. Both departments are often called upon to respond at the same time.
“Our dispatch centers are the first line of defense. Once one of them calls the other under the mutual aid agreement that we have in place, we become a unified command,” Dahman said. “We will respond together, and their team and my team have just seamlessly worked together on many incidents.”
Firefighters are frequently the first responders, but the two fire chiefs encouraged everyone to take responsibility and help protect homes, property and the community from wildfire.