BOISE – On Wednesday, 269 new fires started up in states across the country. Regardless of where those fires start crews at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise play a role.
The NIFC warehouses are like walking through a home improvement store. There are rows and rows of equipment, thousands and thousands of items ready to be sent to a fire on a moment’s notice.
Forklifts were zipping around the warehouse as we went on a walking tour of the facility Thursday.
We ran into Craig York, a material handler for NIFC.
"Right now we're fixing up the water nozzles," said York.
York is just one of many people who spends his days repairing items broken on the fire lines.
"We don't want something like that out on the line, it just endangers people that are working out there," said York.
That's just a fraction of what's happening at the National Interagency Fire Center.
For weeks if not months, firefighters have been out protecting our homes and lands from fires that spark daily. They live on the fire lines. They live off of items from the NIFC warehouse.
"We have everything you need from sleeping bags and tents to tables and chairs, firefighting equipment such as pumps, chainsaws," said Mike Brown who led our walking tour.
And that's not all. They have coolers, rubber bands, backpacks, shovels and axes. In all, there are roughly 10,000 different items that can be used during a fire.
"My goal is to make sure they have the tool in their hand when they need it," said Brown.
With hundreds of new fires popping up daily, there's a lot of equipment going out and coming back in.
"This is how it comes back to us," said Brown.
Each item needs to be checked - fixed and restocked - ready to be sent back out as soon as possible. Each piece of equipment is a tool to keep the fires in check and firefighters safe.
"It's affected a lot of people recently, a lot of houses,” said Brown. “With more and more people building houses into the forest, it's just going to get worse and worse with the urban interface.”
Brown and York know the importance of their work, down to the smallest valve.
"We're hoping to help out as best we can," said York.
Here’s another tidbit, NIFC has 11,000 radios used between the firefighters to communicate. Each radio requires 9 AA disposable batteries.
Since recharging all of those batteries would be a daunting task, firefighters can go through as many as 382,000 batteries on a busy fire day.
As of Thursday, year to date, firefighters have responded to 31,754 wildfires nationwide. That's a little below the 10-year average.