By Patte Smith; photos courtesy of South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR)
South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) chose the Surrey Ridge neighborhood for its wildland fire training in May and June. The nature of the area provided the crews many opportunities to practice their firefighting skills. Einar Jensen, community risk reduction specialist for SMFR, noted that Surrey Ridge is considered a higher-risk area referred to as a “wildland urban interface” neighborhood and is a good training ground for the fire crews.
Firefighters from Aurora, Franktown, Larkspur and Buckley joined SMFR for the wildland fire training. With the summer wildfire season upon us, these firefighting agencies are continually diligent in honing their skills.
Jensen explained that three important phases were practiced during training. First, SMFR triages a home and property to determine if it has defensible space. Next, an exercise known as a progressive hose-lay is practiced by firefighters to skillfully approach a fire safely while arranging the fire hoses.
“We do not want to have any injuries to firefighters or civilians,” stated Jensen. Hoses are deployed from backpacks around the edges of a fire while firefighters use water to extinguish flames, containing a fire within a ring of already burned fuel.
The third stage of the training was a mobile attack. Firefighters walked in front of engines spraying water at a pretend fire while the engines and their mobile water supply followed. Orchestrating such an attack requires practice because when one engine runs out of water, the incident commander wants the next engine crew ready to continue the attack instead of letting the fire start burning on its own again.
Since not all neighborhoods have fire hydrants, firefighters also practiced creating their own water supply. “We place portable tanks near the incident. Water tenders fill the portable tanks so that engines can refill and move water to where firefighters need it,” explained Jensen. “After the water tender dumps its load of water in the portable tank it drives to the closest water hydrant to refill its tank and shuttle that water back to the portable tank.”
“Having exceptionally trained firefighters is important for all of our safety,” Jensen said, “but they can’t be successful without residents doing their share. Residents are responsible for mitigating their properties and if they see smoke or fire, calling 911 and evacuating such a high-risk neighborhood. By protecting their families, residents will be protecting ours.”
For more information about fire mitigation or fire safety, visit www.southmetro.org.