As populations grow and become more dense in rural areas of Missouri, fires that once threatened only natural areas are now becoming increasingly dangerous to homes and businesses. The burden of protecting many of these homes and natural areas now rests on the shoulders of local volunteer fire departments, including the Emergency Response Team (ERT).
The ERT is a registered volunteer fire department with the state of Missouri. All Members are required to complete the core wildland firefighting training through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Upon completion of training, Members can assist national, state, and local conservation and fire agencies in all types of wildland firefighting techniques.
What we do
Every year in Missouri, wildfires threaten structures, habitats and communities. ERT Members assist the:
U.S. Forest Service,
Missouri Department of Conservation,
Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and
other state and local fire departments in many different fire mitigation techniques.
Fire line Prep & Burn Piles
From 2014 to 2017, the ERT prepared 358 miles of fire line. Fire line preparation consists of blowing a marked line clear of brush and debris, chainsawing hazard trees and logs, and using tools to ensure that a controlled burn does not spread further than intended. By preparing safe fire lines, we ensure the protection of critical natural habitats and public infrastructure as well as the safety of those performing the prescribed burn. Burn piles are one way that we can safely control and monitor the disposal of excess vegetation we remove for fire line or habitat restoration.
A core component of the ERT's conservation efforts throughout each year involves prescribed burning. If the weather permits, Members assist partnering agencies with prescribed burns to help restore natural habitats, eradicate invasive species, and manage the forest health. From 2014 to 2017, the Emergency Response Team assisted Missouri state and local agencies in burning 28,781 acres of land.
During peak fire season, when government agencies and rural fire departments with limited resources are overburdened with fire response, ERT Members offer the needed labor and expertise to protect land and homes in Missouri. Members utilize fire rakes, pulaskis, McLeods, leaf blowers, and other hand tools to help mitigate the spread of a wildfire. Members also take part in scouting for wildfires by manning fire towers throughout rural Missouri. From 2014 to 2017, the Emergency Response Team assisted state and local agencies in controlling and putting out wildfires over 1,656 acres of land.
When wildfires in other states become out of control and agencies need more assistance, the ERT is ready to deploy. We provide extra people power to incidents that require trained support. Past deployments have included fires in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Montana. While on deployment, Members utilize techniques learned from prescribed burning, like holding the fire line and backing the fire. Teams also use drip torches to create a black space around certain areas of the fire, which helps contain the spread of the fire by eliminating fuel.