Fire and Aviation

[Photograph]: Group of Puerto Rican Firefighters during a briefing in the field.

The El Yunque National Forest is a tropical rain forest. It receives an average annual rainfall of 120 inches or more; as a consequence, the forest's humidity is very high during most of the year. Conditions are not as conducive to wild land fires as they are in the dry, temperate climates encountered in mainland US forests. The last fire incident in the Caribbean National forest (a minimal fire which was quickly controlled) was recorded in 1994.

The El Yunque National Forest trains and dispatches fire crews to fight fires that occur in other US National Forests. In 1991 the first Fire Crew to be trained in the El Yunque National Forest was dispatched from Puerto Rico to fight wild land fires in the United States.

In 2001 a total of 22 fire crews were trained, qualified and dispatched from the El Yunque National Forest to fight wildfires on National Forests and Grasslands during an extremely busy fire season.

[Photograph]: Caribbean Firefighters  during a backpack test.

The El Yunque National Forest has implemented an Incident Management Plan that includes provisions for the prompt deployment of Incident Management Teams. In the event of a fire or other natural disaster (major landslide, hurricane, earthquake) or if access control of roads is required due to heavy forest visitation, an Incident Management Team is rapidly formed and deployed under an Incident Commander. Incident Management Teams are made-up of regular personnel from the El Yunque National Forest. Many have been cross-trained in special skills (fire suppression, helicopter support crew) that they may be called-upon to use as a team member. Seasonal updates on incident potential are given to all forest personnel at monthly Safety Meetings. The El Yunque National Forest is justly proud of its record of responding promptly and efficiently to such incidents whenever they have occurred.