I just received the following info in an email. What the fire chief has to say is reassuring. I’m sure a lot of folks around here are more than a little concerned about the current situation. Here is his message, sent out through Woodlands Alert:
Message from The Woodlands Fire Department Chief Alan B. Benson
The Woodlands Township has been experiencing severe dry conditions since January 2011. These persistent conditions have led to a high wildfire threat potential in Montgomery County, including The Woodlands Township.
The Woodlands Fire Department recognizes the threat and has been operating, since March, in a mode of operation which maximizes our resources to quickly identify and extinguish a grass/woods fire. The brush truck (booster) is dispatched on any suspected fire. This provides the Department with off road extinguishment capabilities, should it become necessary. The primary reason for implementing this mode of operation is to extinguish a suspected grass/woods fire as quickly as possible and alleviate the potential of the fire to elevate to a dangerous wildfire situation.
Should a grass/woods fire situation elevate to what could be termed as a wildfire, The Woodlands Fire Department stands ready to combat the situation to the best of our capabilities. The Woodlands Township topography and infrastructure provides certain advantages to combat a wildfire, unlike other rural areas of the County. These advantages include large, cleared drainage areas, which serve as natural breaks, excellent water supply, readily available throughout The Township, open space reserves, which separate some of our residential areas, roads which provide access to the vast majority of our area and a minimum of 37 firefighters staffed 24/7.
Should a wildfire situation begin to develop, the Department will immediately request assistance from the Texas Forest Service and mutual aid partners that have equipment suited for off-road firefighting, to assist in the extinguishment.
The Woodlands Fire Department will operate according to our Emergency Operations Plan and quickly analyze the situation, establish the level of emergency, activate the Emergency Operations Center if necessary and implement the communications plan as appropriate. During a wildfire of this magnitude, should it develop, we will also be considering evacuation of neighborhoods threatened, accomplished through emergency personnel on the scene, KSTAR radio, Montgomery County Code Red (reverse 911), Woodlands Alert, and other mediums available, establishing temporary shelters for those residents displaced and activation of off duty personnel.
It is important to also realize that while the Department is well staffed and prepared for such a situation, the result still may include structures lost and lives threatened. However, the Department’s three top priorities will always be life safety, incident stabilization and property conservation.