Forest Smokechaser (1948 film) (2013 Refresher edit)

Forest Smokechaser (1948 film)  (2013 Refresher edit)


[music] This is a training film showing a forest smokechaser
in action on a small fire. The smokechaser, John, and his family, Josephine,
and little Joan, live on Brundage Lookout. Joan makes friends with their wild neighbors
of the forest, there are few visitors on the lookout. Josephine helps on the lookout when John is
gone, takes over his lookout duties. John works for the Southern Idaho Timber Protective
Association, a cooperative private, state, and federal forest protection unit. He is looking for fires in the forest he protects. Trees as far as the eye can see. Trees that furnish lumber for our homes and
industries. Trees that protect the water supply for our
cities and farms. Trees which provide a home for game and wildlife. Trees that must be protected from fire. John’s guarding an empire of trees. There, in the distance, a tiny smoke! In the center. It’s hard to see. Little smokes can be confused with other light
objects. John studies it carefully to be sure it is
a smoke before reporting. If reached quickly, small fires like this
can be controlled by one man. He travels this by car. This, by trail. And this, cross country. Here’s the last water. A copy of the report and field map, will help
him search for the fire. Backpack is ready, complete with rations,
water bag, and the tools he’ll need, by being always ready, he can meet the standard getaway
time of 5 minutes. Josephine will be the eyes that watch over
the forest while he is gone. She’ll report any other fires, and keep the
dispatcher posted in case John’s fire gets out of hand. The first 8 miles are by car. The rest must be done the hard way. He climbs into his pack, and takes to the
trail. He’ll fill his water bag when he gets to
the creek. He makes good time on the three miles of trail. Let’s see, this must be about the place to
hit the brush. The next 2 miles will seem like 20. He fights the brush. Watch out John, a sprained ankle here and
the chances of doing your job are shot. IT’S HOT! And dry as a bone. A fire in this fuel with a wind would really
ramble. He’s made the top, where he can check his
position and the location of the fire. He sees landmarks spotted from the lookout. She’s downhill from here. There it is, good woodsmanship pays off. The fire is burning in heavy fuel spreading
uphill. The gulch below is a jungle of logs and brush. A dead tree is afire, and throwing sparks. Oh brother! A lightning struck snag, fire clear to the
top. John starts around the fire to size it up,
and plan his attack. This is a first of four progressive steps
he will take. 1. Scouting-that’s what heís doing now. 2. Hot spotting dangerous leads. 3. Building a permanent control line, and 4. Mop-up, and putting out all fire. She’s really going to town. This hotspot must be stopped, right now. There, a few shovels of dirt now slows down
John’s scouting, but may save a real bust. A steep slope, rolling hot stuff, a jungle
below. The answer, a good deep v trench with plenty
of bank on the lower side. Notice the firm grip on those tools. And here’s old heartbreaker again, throwing
sparks all over the hill-she’s got to come down. What a mess, trees thick as the hair on a
dogs back, a dangerous spot for a blowup. This will be a hot job. Easy stuff, not going fast, plenty of time
to take care of this. This tough stump will need cooling down, more
hard work. It’s plenty fat, lots of pitch. Scouting done, John places his pack in a safe
opening, where it won’t burn up. A modern touch, the orange cross shows smokejumpers
no help is needed. Now for the second step, hot spotting. John takes his tools and water, and hits the
worst leads he saw while scouting. A spreading fire about to get into some windfall
is cooled with dirt. A quick trench is thrown along the hot edge. This trench is down to mineral soil, and about
one shovel wide, good enough for light fuel. It did the job. The dog haired thicket is starting to crown. John got back just in time. This pile of chunks has got to be cooled down
and torn apart. That snag is too hot to cut down now. Dirt will cool it, so he can drop it later. Now, to stop that roll. Make that v-trench deep. Cut off those roots so fire can’t creep across. Build a good high outer bank so chunks won’t
bounce across. Use good clean soil. Keep the bank free from punk, and rotten wood. His trench is catching the roll, it’s plenty
good enough. There’s a husky log that’ll roll down in
those trees. That’s the stuff John, pull it around. Now it wonít roll. Remember, John figured to cool down the old
stump. He still hopes he won’t have to dig him out. There’s a lot of fire here, but still on
the surface. That’s right, trim up this stuff inside,
and get the limbs out of the fire. Keep the fire on the ground. For the present, hot spotting is done, rapid
spreading leads are stopped. Now for step three, building a permanent line. John is slashing a clearing through the thicket. The fire edge is mighty hot so he doesn’t
work too close, he’ll need some time to finish his line. He gets rid of fuel by throwing it out as
he cuts. John figures the fire will stay on the ground,
and not jump his clearing. He is smart to locate his trench on the outer
edge of the cleared line, to take full advantage of the opening, and get away from heavy fuels. She’s burning clean, a nice quiet ground
fire. Old heartbreaker has cooled down a lot, he
can cut it down now. John uses his Pulaski as a plumb bob to see
how she leans. The hard hat came out of his pack, he wears
it to keep from getting conked. John’s mighty interested in his own safety. He clears a good getaway. A wide bed is swamped for the snag to fall
in. It’s burning up high and he doesn’t want
a lot more ground fire. Three foot through, sound as a dollar. A hundred feet high. Plenty of limbs, a real widow maker. The undercut is started, so it and the back
cut will be at the easiest height for chopping. The undercut faces the direction of fall. He keeps the bottom of the undercut level. The sides are not cut ahead of the center,
for this would allow the tree to twist, or fall sideways. He is careful to clean out the notch into
a sharp v for a clean, straight break. John starts his back cut a little above the
undercut, to prevent the snag from splitting, or kicking back. He checks his corners to see that they are
not cut ahead of the center. TIMBER! Down she goes. A tough job. He still isn’t through with this snag, the
fire must come out of the burning trunk. What’s this? A spot outside his line. These small spots are easy to miss. That’s why John gridirons the area where
sparks might land. He knows if he mixes, half and half with dirt,
the fire will go out. This shoestring trench stopped the spread, it’s
now widened for safety. More line work. The fire is pretty well stopped. Let’s take five, bring on the grub. The last step of his job comes next, nothing
left now but dirty mop up, lots of it. Chipping, scraping, mixing. Way down underneath those big logs, that’s
where they’re still hot. And don’t forget the old stump. Even if he is inside the line, the cooling
down paid off. Let’s chop those embers into a pit. Here’s different trouble. Fire deep in the roots of this punky stump. It’s gotta come out, every last bit of it. All those chunks, all that punk, all those
roots. Is this that hot stump? Was there ever a fire here? Cool, even back in those root holes. Nothing has been buried. It’s been a tough day John, but more of the
same tomorrow. Slip on the coat. Pull up the pack cover, and get some rest. Not much excitement in mop up, just plenty
of hard work. John’s been at it since daybreak. Here’s a log that comes out of its hot bed
into a cool pit, the hot side up. Now he can get at it. Look at that fire, still a long ways from
out. Dirt in the cracks, chopped in and mixed with
the embers will put it out. This log would burn for days if left alone,
and be dangerous in a wind. Some good hard work will put it out. Chipping, chopping, and mixing. This is repeated over and over in mopping
up a fire, it’s a sure way to put a fire out. The bare hand test proves whether or not the
fire is out; where there’s heat, there’s fire. The cold one’s go into the boneyard, where
they can be watched; the hot ones get the dirt treatment. The third day. John still feels, checks, and digs, still
a working job not a watching job. Every part of the fire is checked, to see
that it’s out. One more look at his old friend, the stump. He’s surely cold now, but a check won’t
hurt. This spot fire might be hot yet. No, it’s ok. The final going over, 24 hours since the last
smoke. And so, the fire is out. A little one kept little. A fire well scouted, hot spotted, held, and
mopped up. [music]

10 thoughts on “Forest Smokechaser (1948 film) (2013 Refresher edit)

  1. I went to work for the National Park Service @ Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park. This was one of the training films we were shown. Original 30 Min.

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