Local agencies create fire simulation exercise to practice unified emergency response

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Last Friday, the Bridger-Teton National Forest participated in a simulated wildfire exercise with several emergency response organizations and land management agencies. The simulation was called “Operation Blackout Tabletop Exercise” and simulated a wildfire beginning at the end of August during a hot and dry weather spell at Phillips Canyon on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Participating in the exercise with the Forest were Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS, and Teton County Emergency Management. In the scenario, the mock fire would grow and spread over private and National Park Service lands, and the simulation purposed other nuisances and management concerns including damage to structures and the loss of the power line. “The purpose of the Operation Blackout Tabletop Exercise was to develop joint decision making relationships and to give us an opportunity to practice critical decision making skills in a local scenario under less-than-ideal conditions,” said Forest Supervisor Tricia O’Connor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. “The timing of this exercise was chosen to be pre-fire season and allow us the opportunity to work together before an incident occurs,” said O’Connor. Participants practiced developing cost share agreements to fund the suppression effort, as well as devising a strategy for responding to the incident over several jurisdictions. “An extremely valuable outcome to this exercise was that we were able to build positive multiagency relationships and confidence in key decision-making roles in regards to wildland fire,” she added. “It is always good to have sophisticated exercises like this one where local management agencies can work together ahead of a major incident,” O’Connor said. “The work done by our fire mangers and Rich Ochs with Teton County was impressive and we all were able to learn from this thoughtful effort.” *Feature Photo: h/t BTNF / Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news