INL SITE, Idaho - The Idaho National Laboratory is preparing for wildfire season. INL fire officials say July and August are critical months for fires near their desert site, especially since INL received little snow pack this past winter.
"If you look around us, pretty much everything you see is wild lands," said INL Fire Chief Eric Gosswiller. "Once a fire starts, it can go pretty fast around here."
Although the site is equipped with three fire stations and several mitigation teams, experts say it can be pretty easy for a fire to get out of hand if firefighters don't take proper precautions.
"Around your house at home, you're worried about keeping the fuels away from your structure so it has a good chance to survive a fire. It's pretty much the same thing here at the site," said Gosswiller.
The fire department has four wildland engines, equipped with heavy-duty compressed air to saturate uncontainable fires. There is also a 3,000-gallon water tender, bulldozer for fire line construction and an industrial mower to manage sagebrush and other fuel.
Even with state-of-the-art equipment, fire officials say they sometimes need support from outside fire agencies, such as Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Shelley, Pocatello, Arco, American Falls, Chubbuck, Madison County and the Central Fire District.
"It's a great team to work with. They're passionate about what they do and that's typical of the fire service as a whole," Gosswiller said.