Area fire departments to be better prepared for disasters

Wednesday, November 2, 2011
New pumper truck in service Democrat Photo The Cassville Fire Protection District recently completed repair work on a 1993 Sutphen pumper truck, which has been added to its fleet of emergency vehicles. The truck was purchased and improved to replace an older pumper truck. In addition to serving as a pumper for fire calls, the truck will carry a variety of rescue equipment, including items that can be used during structural collapse rescues.

A series of grants awarded to the Springfield Fire Department (SFD) by the United States Department of Homeland Security will benefit Barry County residents.

Several local fire districts have partnered with SFD to receive grant funds for special equipment and training that will help prepare volunteers to respond to disasters like the tornado that hit Joplin in May.

"This is a regional grant," said Daron Evans, Cassville Fire Protection District administrator. "The Springfield Fire Department contacted us at the end of last year and asked if we would be interested in participating."

The grant helps establish Type I, Type III and Type IV teams, which are specially trained to respond to building and structural collapses. SFD will be trained as a Type I team, which means the department will receive the largest amount of rescue equipment and operation command training.

"The idea is that if a disaster, like the Joplin tornado, occurs and a community sends out a state-wide call for mutual aid everybody will be trained and ready to assist through a structured plan," said Evans. "Type IV is the basic level. Those teams will arrive and begin assessing the situation.

"Then the Type III teams will arrive with more equipment and begin the operation-level rescue efforts," said Evans. "When the Type I teams arrive, they will take over operations, and the Type III teams will fall back into a supporting role."

Fire departments located in Monett, Purdy and Shell Knob received grant funding for Type IV training and equipment. The Cassville Fire District received funding that will be used to develop a Type III team.

"Type III teams received equipment that is essential to starting rescue operations," said Evans. "More importantly, we received funding for training, which will include technical rescues, structure collapses and trench rescues. These are 40-hour classes."

Instructors will visit the Cassville area to conduct a portion of the training, which will likely be conducted over two or three weekends. Volunteers interested in serving on the Type III teams will spend much of Friday and Saturday in class during the training weekends, said Evans.

"They will also do some practical hands-on training, including rescue rapelling," said Evans. "Those are things that we can't do here, so we will be going to another location to complete that portion of the training.

"Once the team is trained, we will be ready to respond to disasters that occur in the southwest part of the state," said Evans. "Most likely, in our area that will be a tornado. We will be trained in searching for victims and removing victims from structural collapses. This training will teach our volunteers the technical aspects of performing a structural collapse rescue."

The Cassville Fire Protection District is served by 22 volunteers, who serve an area that is approximately 60 square miles in size.

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