Firefighters of Eastland County Prepare for Wild Fire Season

By 2nd Assistant Chief Rick Rackow, Eastland Fire Department

The morning of April 26th was beautiful and sunny as the firefighters of Eastland County arrived at the old Carbon School to start their second, county-wide training session since its conception by the fire chiefs of Eastland County. This month, men and women from every fire department gave up their personal time Saturday morning to become better acquainted with one another, learn about each department’s wild land firefighting capabilities, and above all, to train together to safely engage in wild land fire suppression.
As brush trucks from all over the county arrived at the school, the firefighters operating them were immediately introduced and indoctrinated with the National Incident Management System or NIMS. (NIMS was developed and adopted by the federal government as a standardized approach to not only manage emergency incidents, but to better facilitate coordination and the safe guarding of first responders, the public and property.) The Staging Officer promptly gave the firefighters parking and staging instructions and provided information on where to receive the Incident Action Plan (IAP). Acting Incident Commander, Chief DuWayne Hunter of Olden’s IAP objective was for the firefighters to train in proper incident size-up and planning and executing proper wild land firefighter techniques safely and efficiently while working together as a team.
Chief Josh Constancio of Rising Star assigned as Operations Officer, welcomed everyone in attendance and opened up the morning with a quick overview of the IAP and quickly transitioned into class room objectives with lecture and PowerPoint presentation. Everyone in attendance listened as they enjoyed the much appreciated coffee and donuts provided by the Carbon Volunteer Fire Department. After an approximate forty-five minute lecture and safety instructions, Chief Constancio gave the students a fifteen minute break before the day’s main event: brush truck driver and nozzle-man skills training.
Behind the old Carbon School, Chief Hunter and Chief Constancio, with the help of their departments, had setup several consecutive training stations to be done in brush trucks operated by only a driver and one nozzle-man. Each station was designed to teach and challenge each truck team in driving skills and water stream application while at the same time keeping the training fun and engaging. The infamous “Ball Run” was the most challenging and memorable of those stations. The goal of the Ball Run was to give training and practice to the driver on proper truck positioning and the nozzle-man on proper water stream placement when combating a wild land fire. The Ball Run consisted of several A-Frame structures which were setup in an approximate 60 yard semi-circle. The team, then utilizing the skills taught earlier, had to move a basketball through the A-Frames along the semi-circle path using only the fire hose, water stream and brush tuck position while attempting to stay parallel with the simulated fire line. The activity was very entertaining and caused quite a bit of excitement by the participants. After every team had made it through the course, the driver and nozzle-man switched allowing each member to experience both driving and operating the fire nozzle.
The day’s events ended around noon with everyone back at the school to debrief and eagerly enjoy the Bar-B-Q sandwich lunch provided by the Carbon Volunteer Fire Department before returning back to their cities and departments.
The Eastland County Firefighters would like to thank Olden and Rising Star Volunteer Fire Departments for the training and Carbon Volunteer Fire Department for hosting the event with facilities and meals. We look forward to June’s county-wide training and what it has to offer.