Incident Action  Checklist - Wildfire

  The actions in this checklist are divided up into three "rip & run" sections and are examples of activities that water and
  wastewater utilities can take to: prepare for, respond to and recover from wildfires. For on-the-go convenience, you can
  also populate the "My Contacts" section with critical information that your utility may need during an incident.

Wildfire Impacts on Water and Wastewater Utilities
A wildfire is any instance of uncontrolled burning in grasslands, brush or woodlands. Wildfires can be caused by lightning,
human carelessness or arson. Wildfires often begin unnoticed spread quickly and  present a direct risk to property and
infrastructure, in addition to potential degradation of the water supply. In some cases, source water quality issues can persist
for 5-10 years following a wildfire. Areas that have experienced a wildfire are also at an increased risk of flash flooding and
mudslides because the ground where vegetation has burned away cannot effectively absorb rainwater. Often, post-fire
impacts (including those impacts resulting from flash floods) are more detrimental to drinking water and wastewater systems
than the fire itself. Specific impacts to drinking water and wastewater utilities may include, but are not limited to:
    •  Infrastructure damage to the facility or distribution system due to proximity to the fire or firefighting activities
    •  Loss of water quantity due to increased withdrawals for firefighting activities
    •  Source water quality changes due to increased nutrients and other pollutants, which can result in higher turbidity,
      algal blooms, potential odor and taste issues, and subsequent higher treatment costs
    •  Increased sediment in reservoirs as a result of runoff and flash floods from  burned areas, which can affect water
      quality, and reduced reservoir capacity and effective service lifespan
    •  Increased sediment and debris in  stormwater runoff following flash floods, impacting water quality and treatment
    •  Decreased water supply downstream, as loss of forest canopy can lead to increased evaporation and reduction in the
      amount of water stored in snowpack
The following sections  outline actions water and wastewater utilities can take to prepare for, respond to and recover from

  Examples of Water Sector  Impacts and Response to a Wildfire
  Denver Water responds to impacts  from wildfire and flooding
  On May 18, 1996, the 11,900-acre Buffalo Creek fire occurred on a tributary to  the upper South Platte  River, the main
  source of Denver, Colorado's water supply. While Buffalo Creek itself contributes a very small share of Denver's water
  supply, it is located directly upstream of the Strontia Springs Reservoir, the intake point for the Foothills Treatment Plant
  - a facility that  handles approximately 80% of Denver's water.
  Two months after the Buffalo Creek fire, heavy thunderstorms occurred directly over the burned area, causing a flash
  flood that washed more sediment  into the  reservoir than had  accumulated over the previous 13 years, resulting in an
  estimated  loss  of 30  years of the reservoir's planned 50-year life.
  The emergency cleanup costs totaled nearly $1 million. Chronic cleanup costs  due to increased turbidity totaled
  $250,000 in water treatment costs per  year, and dredging was estimated to cost $15 to $20 million over 10 years.
  To mitigate future damage, the utility installed sensors upstream of the reservoir to monitor the amount of debris and
  sediment coming down the river, allowing the utility to shut down its treatment plant before flash floods could cause
  damage. Denver Water and the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain  Region are also investing $33 million over a
  5-year period for mechanical thinning, fuel reduction, creating fire breaks, erosion control, decommissioning roads and
                                                         Source: EPA "Adaptation Strategies Guide for Water Utilities. 2012"

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                     My  Contacts and Resources
                                       UTILITY/ORGANIZATION NAME
                                                                              PHONE NUMBER

Local EMA
State EMA
State Primacy Agency
WARN Chair
Power Utility

• Tabletop Exercise Tool for Water Systems:
Emeraencv Preparedness. Response, and Climate
.   Active Fire Mapping Program (U.S. Forest Service
.   National Significant Wildland Fire Potential
   Outlooks (National Interagency Coordination
   Center [NICC])
.   NOAA National Weather Service - Fire Weather
   (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
.   Fire Weather Outlooks and Forecasting Tools
   (National Weather Service [NWS])
.   Incident Information System (InciWeb)
.   Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination (GeoMAC)
   Group Wildland Fire Support application (U.S.
   Geological Survey [USGS])
.   Fire Forecast (National Public Radio)
•   Wildfire Assessment System (USFS)
National Interagencv Fire Center (NIFC)
NIFC Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER)
Firewise Communities (National  Fire Protection
Association [NFPA])
Readv.gov Wildfire Preparedness (Federal
Emergency Management Agency [FEMA])
Fire Management Planning for Public Water Systems
Best Management Practices for Fire Preparedness
and Response (Florida Rural Water Association
U.S. Drought Portal (National Integrated Drought
Information System [NIDIS])
Wildfire Impacts on Water Quality (Southwest
All-Hazard Consequence Management Planning
for the Water Sector (Water Sector Emergency
Response Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory
Council (CIPAC) Workgroup)
Preparing for Extreme Weather Events: Workshop
Planner for the Water Sector (EPA)
   Resiliency (EPA)

•   Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network
   (WARN) (EPA)
•   Community Based Water Resiliency (EPA)

Facility and Service Area
•   Defensible Space Guidance (CAL FIRE)
•   Private Wells after the Fire: A private well owner's
   guide to protecting your drinking water source
   (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
•   Firewise Landscaping and  Plant Lists (NFPA)
•   Firewise Guide to Landscape and Construction
•   Post-Fire Rehabilitation Techniques (Colorado State
•   Recovery Assistance for Water Utilities Dealing with
   the Effects of Wildfire (CoWARN)
•   Water Quality Concerns Fact Sheet (ADEQ)
•   Municipal Water Supply Systems and Evaluation
   Methods for Fire Protection (FEMA)

Power, Energy and Fuel
•   EPA Region 1 Water/Wastewater System Generator
   Preparedness Brochure (EPA)

Documentation and Reporting
•   Federal Funding for Utilities in National Disasters
   (Fed FUNDS') (EPA)

•   Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER)
   Treatment Catalog (USFS)
•   Plants for Wildfire Protection and Restoration (USDA)
•   Land Rehabilitation FAQ: Lower North Fork Fire
   (Jefferson Conservation District)
•   Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool
•   Adaptation Strategies Guide (EPA)
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                      Actions to Prepare for a Wildfire
   Actively monitor fire and weather conditions and
   be aware of regional wildfires.

   Review and update your utility's emergency
   response plan (ERP), and ensure all emergency
   contacts are current.

   Conduct briefings, training and exercises to
   ensure utility staff is aware of all preparedness,
   response and recovery procedures.

   Identify priority water customers (e.g., hospitals),
   obtain their contact information, map their
   locations and develop a plan to restore those
   customers first, in case of water service

   Develop an emergency drinking water supply
   plan and establish response partner contacts
   (potentially through your local emergency
   management agency [EMA] or mutual aid
   network) to discuss procedures, which may
   include bulk water hauling, mobile treatment
   units or temporary supply lines, as well as
   storage and distribution.

   Review and update fire management plans,
   including contingency plans  for system operation
   if critical facilities are impacted by wildfire and
   access is limited  or not possible.

   Conduct a hazard vulnerability analysis in which
   you review historical records to understand the
   past frequency and intensity of wildfires and how
   your utility may have been impacted. Consider
   taking actions to  mitigate wildfire impacts to the
   utility, including those provided in the "Actions  to
   Recover from a Wildfire: Mitigation" section.

   Complete pre-disaster activities to help apply
   for federal disaster funding (e.g., contact state/
   local officials with connections to funding, set
   up a system to document damage and costs,
   take photographs of the facility for comparison to
   post-damage photographs).

   Ensure proper safety gear is available for field
   Join your state's Water/Wastewater Agency
   Response Network (WARN) or other local
   mutual aid network.

   Coordinate with WARN members and other
   neighboring utilities to discuss:

       Outlining response activities, roles and
       responsibilities and mutual aid procedures
       (e.g., how to request and offer assistance)

       Conducting joint tabletop or full-scale

       Obtaining resources and assistance, such as
       equipment, personnel, technical support or

       Establishing interconnections between
       systems and agreements with necessary
       approvals to activate this alternate source.
       Equipment, pumping rates and demand on
       the water sources need to be considered and
       addressed in the design and operations

       Establishing communication protocols and
       equipment to reduce misunderstandings
       during the incident

   Coordinate with other key response partners,
   such as your local EMA, to discuss:

       How restoring  system  operations may
       have higher priority than establishing an
       alternative water source

       Potential points of distribution for the delivery
       of emergency water supply (e.g., bottled
       water) to the public, as well as who is
       responsible for distributing the water

   Understand how the local  and utility emergency
   operations center  (EOC) will be activated and
   what your utility may be called on to do, as
   well as how local emergency responders and
   the local EOC can support your utility during a
   response. If your utility has assets outside of the
   county EMA's jurisdiction,  consider coordination
   or preparedness efforts that should be done in
   those areas.
                                                 3 of 8

                 Actions to Prepare for a Wildfire (continued)
\	| Meet with the fire agency with authority in your
   utility's area. This could include a local fire
   department, state conservation and forestry
   offices, and/or the US Forest Service. Review
   plans, discuss response activities (e.g., fire
   suppression chemical use) and identify hazards
   and vulnerabilities at your utility.

I	| Ensure credentials to allow access will be valid
   during an incident by checking with local law

I	| Sign up for mobile and/or email alerts from  your
   local EMA,  if available.

Communication with Customers	
   I Develop outreach materials to provide your
   customers with information they will need
   during a wildfire (e.g., clarification about water
   advisories, instructions for private well and septic
   system  maintenance, and information about fire
   prevention and mitigation).

   I Review public information protocols with  local
   EMA and public health/primacy agencies.
   These protocols should include developing
   water advisory messages (e.g., boil water) and
   distributing them to customers using appropriate
   mechanisms, such as reverse 911.
Facility and Service Area
   Inventory and order extra equipment and
   supplies, as needed:
• Motors

• Fuses

• Chemicals (ensure at least a two week supply)

• Cellular phones or other wireless
   communications device

• Emergency Supplies

  •   Tarps/tape/rope


     First aid kits

     Foul weather gear



     Sandbags (often, sand must be ordered as

     Bottled water


     Non-perishable food

Ensure communication equipment (e.g., radios,
satellite phones) works and is fully charged.

Develop a GIS map of all system components
and prepare a list of coordinates for each facility.

Practice mechanical thinning, weed control,
selective harvesting, controlled burns and
creation of fire breaks on utility managed
property, and encourage these practices on
property that may directly impact the utility, its
water supply and/or water quality.
r Notes:

                 Actions  to  Prepare  for a Wildfire (continued)
  \ Address and, if possible, remove vegetation from
   around facilities located in medium to high fire
   danger zones. Consider replacing flammable
   vegetation with fire-resistant landscaping.

  I Create a zone of defensible space of
   approximately 50-100 feet for utility equipment
   and facilities (e.g., wellheads, structures,
   supports to wires and transformers). Consult
   with your local fire department for specific
   recommendations or requirements.

  I Install manual or automatic irrigation systems to
   provide wetting of components and groundcover
   for vulnerable areas (e.g., chlorine storage,
   control equipment buildings).

  I Assess the possibility of and procedures for using
   reclaimed water for fire suppression (prepare
   public notice and talking points).

  I Document pumping requirements and storage
   capabilities, as well as critical  treatment
   components and parameters.

  I Back-up essential records and data, and store in
   a fireproof safe or offsite facility.
   Identify essential personnel and ensure they are
   trained to perform critical duties in an emergency
   (and possibly without communication),  including
   the shut down and start up of the system.

   Establish communication procedures with
   essential and non-essential personnel.  Ensure all
   personnel are familiar with emergency  evacuation
   and shelter in place procedures.

   Pre-identify emergency operations and clean-
   up crews. Establish alternative transportation
   strategies if roads are impassable.

   Consider how evacuations or limited staffing
   due to transportation issues (potentially all utility
   personnel) will impact your response procedures.
   Identify possible staging areas for mutual
   aid crews if needed in the response, and the
   availability of local facilities to house the crews.

   Encourage personnel, especially those that
   may be on duty for extended periods of time, to
   develop family emergency plans.
Power, Energy and Fuel
   Evaluate condition of electrical panels to accept
   generators; inspect connections and switches.

   Document power requirements of the facility;
   options for doing this may include:
   • Placing a request with the US Army Corps
     of Engineers 249th Engineer Battalion
     (Prime Power): http://www.usace.army.
   • Using the US Army Corps of Engineers on-line
     Emergency Power Facility Assessment Tool
     (EPFAT):  http://epfat.swf.usace.army.mil/

   Confirm and document generator connection
   type, capacity load and fuel consumption. Test
   regularly, exercise under load and service
   backup generators.

   Fill fuel tanks to full capacity and ensure that you
   have the ability to manually pump gas in the event
   of a power outage. Ensure this equipment and
   other hazardous materials are located in a safe

   Contact fuel vendors and inform them of
   estimated fuel volumes needed if utility is
   impacted. Determine your ability to establish
   emergency contract provisions with vendors
   and your ability to transport fuel if re-fueling
   contractors are not available. Develop a backup
   fueling plan and a prioritization list of which
   generators  to fuel in case of a fuel shortage.

   Collaborate with your local power provider and
   EOC to ensure that your water utility is on the
   critical facilities list for priority electrical power
   restoration, generators and emergency fuel.
                                                  5 of 8

                    Actions to Respond to a Wildfire
   Identify possible alternate water supplies and
   operational changes to assist in mitigating
   demand and water quality concerns.
I	I Once the wildfire is about 40% contained, reach
   out to your local EMA, the incident's Public
   Information Officer (PIO) and the Burned Area
   Emergency Response (BAER) team to maintain
   awareness of the situation and, if possible,
   to lend assistance as resource advisors or

I	I Notify your local EMA and state regulatory/
   primacy agency of system status.

I	I If needed, request or offer assistance (e.g.,
   equipment, personnel) through mutual aid
   networks, such as WARN.

I	I Assign a representative of the utility to the
   incident command post or the community's EOC.

Communication with Customers	
   Notify customers of any water advisories
   and consider collaborating with local media
   (television, radio, newspaper, etc.) to distribute
   the message. If emergency water is being
   supplied, provide information on the distribution
Facility and Service Area

   Conduct damage assessments of the utility to
   prioritize repairs and other actions.

   Check that back-up equipment and facility
   systems, such as controls and pumps, are
   in working order, and ensure that chemical
   containers and feeders are intact.

   Drinking Water Utilities

   If possible, refill storage tanks each day to ensure
   maximum storage for demand, including fire

   Work with the local EMA to identify passable
   access roads and to ensure that utility facilities in
   forest areas are clearly identified.

   Keep intakes and access hatches clear of debris.

   Monitor raw water quality, develop a sampling
   plan and adjust treatment as necessary.

   Notify regulatory/primacy agency if operations
   and/or water quality or quantity are affected.

   Utilize pre-established  emergency connections
   or setup temporary connections to nearby
   communities, as needed. Alternatively, implement
   plans to draw emergency water from pre-
   determined tanks or hydrants. Notify employees
   of the activated sites.
r Notes:
                                                  6 of 8

               Actions to Respond to a Wildfire (continued)
   Prepare and deploy equipment as needed to
   support firefighting operations, such as tanker
   trucks and related pumping equipment, as well as
   bulldozers for the construction of firebreaks.

   Conduct sediment removal activities, such as
   installing permanent or temporary debris basins.

   Wastewater Utilities

   Inspect the utility and service area, including
   lift stations, for damage and power availability.
   Inspect the sewer system for debris and assess
   the operational status of the mechanical bar
   screen. If necessary, run system in manual

   Notify regulatory/primacy agency of any changes
   to the operations or required testing parameters.
Documentation and Reporting
   Document all damage assessments, mutual aid
   requests, emergency repair work, equipment
   used, purchases made, staff hours worked and
   contractors used during the response to assist
   in requesting reimbursement and applying
   for federal disaster funds. When possible,
   take photographs (with time and date stamp).
   Proper documentation is critical to requesting

   Work with your local EMA on the required
   paperwork for public assistance requests.
   Account for all personnel and provide emergency
   care, if needed. If personnel are in the field,
   communicate with the National Weather Service
   (NWS) on local wind conditions in the fire area so
   staff are aware of how quickly winds are shifting
   and if evacuation from facilities is required.

   Deploy emergency operations and clean-up
   crews. Identify key access points and roads
   for employees to enter the utility and critical
   infrastructure; coordinate the need for debris
   clearing with  local emergency management or
   prioritize it for employee operations.
Power, Energy and Fuel
   Use backup generators, as needed, to supply
   power to system components.

   Monitor and plan for additional fuel needs in
   advance; coordinate fuel deliveries to generators.

   Maintain contact with electric provider for power
   outage duration estimates.
r Notes:
                                                7 of 8

                    Actions to Recover from a Wildfire
I	I Continue work with response partners to obtain
   funding, equipment, etc.

I	I Coordinate with land owners and other partners
   to restore and treat burned areas.

Communication with Customers	
   Assign a utility representative to continue
   to communicate with customers concerning
   a timeline for recovery and other pertinent
Facility and Service Area
I	I Complete damage assessments.
   Complete permanent repairs, replace depleted
   supplies and return to service.
Documentation and Reporting
   Compile damage assessment forms and cost
   documentation into a single report to facilitate
   the sharing of information and the completion
   of state and federal funding applications.
   Visit EPA's web-based tool, Federal Funding
   for Utilities—Water/Wastewater—in National
   Disasters (Fed FUNDS), for tailored information
   and application forms for various federal
   disaster funding programs: http://water.epa.gov/
   Develop a lessons learned document and/
   or an after action report (AAR) to keep a
   record of your response activities. Update your
   vulnerability assessment, ERP, fire models and
   fire management plans.

   Revise budget and asset management plans to
   address increased costs from response-related
   Identify mitigation and long-term adaptation
   measures that can prevent damage and
   increase utility resilience. Consider impacts
   related to future climate conditions and the
   increased frequency of wildfires when planning
   for system upgrades (e.g., installing buffer strips,
   removing hazardous fuels).

   Consider implementing the following mitigation
   measures to prepare for possible flash flooding
   events following a wildfire:
   • Monitor the watershed, as conditions may
     be different post-fire. Identify potential failure
     points within your service area: ensure culverts
     can handle increased flow, and determine
     runoff points and areas where water will now
   • Install a rain gauge upstream of intake for early
     warning of heavy precipitation that could lead
     to high turbidity water and sensors to monitor
     the amount of debris and sediment coming
   • Consider instituting erosion control measures
     to protect against runoff and sediment
     concerns that occur during suppression and
- Notes:
                               Office of Water (4608-T)  EPA 817-F-15-010 January 2015
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