Wolfskin Volunteer Fire Department
Oglethorpe County, Northeast Georgia
Peace in Wolfskin

wolfskinvfd@yahoo.com


Mark Your Wolfskin VFD Calendar!
Send additions, corrections, etc. to Wayne


October 2014

Oct 2: (Thu 6:30pm): First Thursday Business Meeting.

Oct 7: (Tue 7pm): First Tuesday Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue meeting (Farm Bureau Office in Crawford).

Oct 9: (Thu 6:30pm): Second Thursday Training Meeting.

Oct 16: (Thu 6:30pm): Third Thursday Training Meeting.

Oct 23: (Thu 6:30pm): Fourth Thursday Training Meeting.

Oct 30: (Thu 6:30pm): Fifth Thursday Training Meeting.


November 2014

Nov 4: (Tue 7pm): First Tuesday Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue meeting (Farm Bureau Office in Crawford).

Nov 6: (Thu 6:30pm): First Thursday WVFD Business Meeting, 854 Wolfskin Road.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Basic Volunteer Firefighter Training - Search and Rescue

Oglethorpe County is training 12 volunteer firefighters in Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Fire. The after-hours course gives students an introduction to, and practice performing, the skills necessary to protect life and property in the county. The Oglethorpe course is equivalent to the 95-hour, 2-week in-residence course offered by the Georgia Fire Academy at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth. Because most volunteers cannot take that kind of time to attend the Forsyth course, the local course is essential in training new firefighters for the county.

The Organizer and Instructor is Douglas Spencer, Chief of the Vesta Volunteer Fire Department, President of the Oglethorpe Firefighters Association and a Georgia Fire/EMS Instructor. Jessie Carter of the Arnoldsville and Wolfskin Fire Departments is responsible for organizing many of the practical excercises, often with the help of Nicole Spencer of the Vesta Fire Department. Other members of the emergency responder community contribute special lectures, direct particular practice excercises or provide teaching and practice materials for the course. The course is held at the Arnoldsville Fire Department, the newest fire station in the county and an excellent venue. Special thanks to Chief Mike Eidson for making it available.

The students are Jacob Aaron, Zach Dudley, Alexis Maro and Mathew Pilcher of the Arnoldsville Fire Department, Robert Dyer and Christopher Owensby of the Lexington Fire Department, David Jett of the Vesta Fire Department, Rollin Marable of the Maxeys Fire Department, William Nation of the Devils Pond Fire Department, Heather Thaxton of the Crawford Fire Department, and Alexis Wahrenberg and Mary Titlle of the Pleasant Hill Fire Department.

The course began on September 9 and meets three evenings a week and most Saturdays. Instruction, practice and periodic exams conclude on November 21. A final exam and live structure fire will follow in order to obtain certification of the students as Volunteer Firefighters. Topics include: Safety; Health; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); CPR; Fire Behavior; Building Construction; Fire Extinguishers; Ropes and Knots; Rescue and Extrication; Forcible Entry; Ground Ladders; Ventilation; Water Supply; Fire Hose; Fire Streams; Fire Control; Fire Detection; Loss Control; Protecting Evidence; Communications; and Live Structure Fire. Most topics include practice and more practice.

Lecture and demonstrations of Rescue and Extrication were on Tuesday, October 8. On Thursday, October 10, the entire 4-hr class was devoted to practice. In two earlier classes the students had done what is known as a 'Hose Maze', breathing air from their BAs in very dim light while following a particular hose under and over obstructions and using arms, legs and tools to explore their surroundings for down civilians or firefighters. From these and other earlier excercises, they were comfortable in their PPE and BA and had a good idea of the capabilities of their teammates.The practice was directed by Steven Bray, a member of the Arnoldsville Fire Department and a member of the professional Rockdale Fire Department.

The first event was a special Hose Maze that included many overhead obstacles, very small restricted spaces to crawl through, complicated loops in the guiding hose, many other distracting hoses and unexpected falling and entrapping debris. Very challenging, and made more so because the students were blind, having their Nomex hoods covering their eyes. This mimics the usual heavy smoke conditions in a structure fire. All firefighters were on their hands and knees or their stomachs and breathing air from their BAs.

A team of two firefighters were told to follow a hose into a structure fire to locate and relieve the team ahead of them. This is part of the duty of a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) which should be a backup for any attack team in a structure. For every team inside, there is a RIT outside ready to immediately go inside with a charged hose. The lead firefighter must continually keep in contact with the hose that leads them to the team ahead and the second firefighter must keep in contact with the lead firefighter. They must talk to each other and be able to change positions without losing the hose or each other.

As challenging the first assignment was tonight, it lacked three other duties that make what Rescue Teams or RIT do virtually unbelievable: the teams tonight did not drag their own 200 ft of charged hose; they did not carry tools because they were not assigned to search as they advanced; and they did not have radios to communicate with their supervisors outside. Perhaps these will be added on other nights.

There were two overlapping courses with a common entry point and different exits. So two teams were often in the structure at the same time. Jessey Carter and Nicole Spencer coached, and Nicole harassed, one team and Steven Bray coached the other. After all five teams had gone through, Steven went through by himself with harassment by many of the students.

The second exercise required teams of four firefighters to locate and remove a firefighter in distress. This was done with the station lights off and Nomex hoods in normal position so that the firefighters had some vision.

Finally, rolling loose hose, laying the preconnect hose back on top of the Arnoldsville Rescue Pumper and returning the Fire Station to normal order.


Preparing for Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Preparing for Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Preparing to go inside in full PPE, BA with air and last-minute coaching.

Welcome to Hell, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Obstacles, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Restricted Space, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Hoses, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
A greeting by Nicole Spencer and some of the obstacles facing the students who are doing it blind.

First Team Starts, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Toward the Nozzle, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
First Firefighter through the Restricted Space, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Second Firefighter through the Restricted Space, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
A Mess of Hoses, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Crawling under an Obstruction, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
The first team following the hose, making sure they are going the right direction (in this case 'smooth, bump, bump, back to the pump' is the wrong direction) and through the intermediate restricted space. For both these firefighters, this required careful removal of the BA, pushing it through the space and putting it back on once the firefighter was through the space. Then they are confronted by a confusing mess of hoses and still another obstacle.

Second Team, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
First and Second Teams nearly Meet, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Nicole mimics a Falling Wall, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Nicole about to catch the BA on simulated Loose Wires, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
The Second Team is directed by Nicole and Jessey and they nearly meet the First Team. Nicole simulates a falling wall and loose wires on the second firefighter of the Second Team.

Third Team, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Third Team, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Third and Fourth Teams nearly Meet, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Third and Fourth Teams nearly Meet, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
The Third Team manages to go through the intermediate restricted opening without taking off their BAs. They than nearly collide with the Fourth Team.

Fourth Team moves through the Small Restricted Opening, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Fourth Team moves through the Small Restricted Opening, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Fourth Team moves through the Small Restricted Opening, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Fourth Team moves through the Small Restricted Opening, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Nicole about to simulate a Falling Wall, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Nicole simulating Fallen Wires, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
The Fourth Team goes through the Small Restricted Opening and then is faced with a falling wall and fallen wires.

Students watch as Steven Bray moves through the Course, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
A Plant to create an Unmovable Obstruction, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
The Unmovable Obstruction, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
The BA has to come off, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
After coaching three teams, Steven Bray went through one of the courses himself, much to the amusement and admiration of the students. A plan is hatched to create an unmovable obstruction. Athough although he claimed he would be able to go through the small restricted space without removing his BA, that was not to be.

Searching for a Fallen Firefighter, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Dragging the Firefighter to Safety, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
The Second Activity of the evening, Search and Extrication, where teams of four found and dragged a fallen firefighter from the structure.

Restoring the Fire Department, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Draining and Relaying Hose, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Draining and Relaying Hose, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Draining and Relaying Hose, Rescue and Extrication, Basic Volunteer Firefighter Course, Arnoldsville GA, 10 October 2013
Restoring the Fire Department to order and recovering hose and relaying the preconnect lines.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Nice Day for a Burn


I mentioned on March 30 that three of us were busy building fire breaks around a 3/4 acre section of the fire station property, back of the station.  We completed these on Friday April 12, with plans to conduct a prescribed burn on Saturday.

We didn't have a large group, but fortunately our experienced wildlife biologist across the creek joined us, along with his wife, our former chief.  I called the Lexington Georgia Forestry Commission office at 8am and was given permit #306.

I had been a little concerned about whether GFC would be giving out prescribed burn permits on Saturday.  The weather was lovely, but from a burn point of view had deteriorated somewhat.  That day's point forecast predicted higher temperatures than previously expected (though still in the low 80s) and humidities dipping toward 25% and below in the late afternoon (25% is usually the trigger for fire weather).  The winds were still predicted to be very calm, and perhaps that was the ameliorating factor.

At any rate, we were given the permit, and we got going with a plan I'd jotted down.  I've added to it with some postburn data.  Now, although all of us have participated in some wildland fire control, and several of us in prescribed burns, this was the first time I'd planned and set up for a burn.

I called 911 to alert them, although they're able to access GFC's website to discover permitted burns when concerned folks call in.  And we put our large sign out front, alerting passersby that we were conducting a "control burn" (like "boil peanuts") and that they should not call 911.  Those were nice touches that made our 911 sheriff's office happy.

The plan below shows the rectangular burn area just north of the station.
North is up, and the wind was primarily coming from the northwest. I had wanted that in order to blow smoke into the 300 acres of uninhabited land to the east, and not back to the few houses on the left and across Wolfskin Road.


There are two long dirt roads that run parallel to the long dimension of the property.  We positioned the pumper most of the way down the right-hand road, and the tanker in back of the station.  We ran two lengths of hose from each engine to protect all sides of the property (and the properties on the other side of the access roads!).

Here's the setup before we began the burn.  This is one of the two hoses that ran 150 feet (three lengths) from the pumper on the east access road.



Here's the worthy pumper on the east access road.  Glenn was the pump operator here.  We're facing south, so the above hoses run right into the property, and the second set run unseen 300 feet (six lengths) south behind the pumper.  The photo was obviously taken after the burn started, but as you can see the smoke is blowing in the desired direction, away from houses and toward unimproved land.

We had a similar arrangement with the tanker on the other side of the property.



So we started our burn with a drip torch at the northeast corner, the most downwind part of the property, just inside the fire break.  On the plan above, this is marked by a circled "1".  This was also inside the 1/3 or so of the property that had thinned pines on it.  We really needed to get this area burned today, since burning under pines would be banned for the season in a few days.

We watched that begin to slowly spread, and then started spots down the east break, in the area marked "2".  This set up a "back burn," which is started at and burns at the break and slowly upwind against the wind.  With this, you're extending the fire break safely, and making a much wider burned area that fire cannot easily cross.

That's Charleen, there, who worked with Glenn and me in making the fire breaks over the last two or three weeks.  And our wildlife biologist advisor.



After a bit of that, we further extended the back burn southward down the fire break, always burning backward into the wind.  And we started a parallel burn toward the back burned portion.  All marked "3".

That's Phyllis in the foreground, our former fire chief. She's standing in the fire break, with a hose running in front of her.



At this point, we had a nice line of fire down the break, burning backwards into the wind.  I took this panorama (click for larger image on new page) of three or four single photos.  As you can see, the wind reversed direction on us for a few minutes - it should have been blowing to the right.  It was no problem, even if it had been sustained, as we had already begun the spot ("4") and headwind ("5") burns in the center and left (west) side of the property.



One of my favorite single shots, this one shows exactly one of those headwind burns on the left (west) side of the property.  This time the wind is cooperating with us.  The unburned strip on the right is our fire break that we worked so hard on.  Now it's a very nice path that circumnavigates the property.



Here are a few panoramas of Saturday's festivities.  I spend a lot of time on these, and have figured out a *nearly* foolproof method of getting evenly lit photos.  The rapidly shifting fire and smoke taxed even that method, and there are a couple of flaws in the stitching.

Clicking on each opens a large image in a new page.

These two are my favorites, especially the top one, below, taken looking approximately north, about midway through the burn.  On the left, you can see the fire break, with Charleen monitoring that portion.  The fire is blowing toward the very first, already burned fire breaks.



And below is the result, a few days later, more or less taken from the same angle and direction.  The unburned branches and small felled trees tell you that our burn was not too hot, because it didn't burn freshly cut vegetation.  However it did burn branches and trees that had fallen or been felled in the previous two years.



Glenn and I especially will be interested in seeing whether seldom seen fire resistant plants come up in the next year or so.

This one is actually the last photo of the day.  Unseen to the right is the station, and the tanker was our protective resource here.  A hoseline runs toward us and down the access road to protect that area.  We're all just relaxing, more or less, since the burn is just about done ("7" on the map at the top) - Glenn would prefer a chaise lounge.  Apparently we slowed down quite a bit of traffic on Wolfskin Road, as drivers paused in curiosity.



So in the end it was a burn that worked just about perfectly.  Our preparations were adequate to keep us from getting anxious at wind direction changes, and the day's weather was just about perfect for the event.  No mistakes were made, and our safety features were way beyond what were needed.  Still, I really was scared to death something would go wrong, but that's just me.

The next day, Sunday, would have been terrible.  The wind would be coming from the east, which around here is a promise for gusts and wind direction changes.  And it would be lightly raining by late morning or early afternoon.

Why did we want to do this?  Partly it was a training exercise that I thought really needed to be done.  But mostly the larger part of the property had been clear cut, with a lot of debris left on the ground.  After two years a good bit of blackberries, sweetgums, and other primary succession growth had come up.  It seemed like, and was, a good way to accomplish two things at once.

In the end, we want to put a new fire station on this property.  The pathway to that goal is not clear, but that's no reason not to use the property as training every 2-3 years for prescribed burns.  The result will be an interesting and beautiful grassy backyard, with likely fire-selected wildflowers.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Wolfskin VFD Development Plans

Last night we had a brief discussion about the need to produce a set of development plans for the fire department.

We'll meet at 6:30pm next Thursday, Jan 10. In the meantime, please think of and write down any suggestions as to what should be included on a plan. If you can't meet, please email the suggestions to Wayne.

The suggestions can be anything involving the station, items needed, training, recruitment, meetings, and more. Please indicate a time frame for accomplishing each suggestion, i.e., 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years.

On the right sidebar you'll find our previous plans. Click on either to download a word doc with the plan. The name of the plans should be self explanatory.

The 1-3-5 Year Plan was suggested by Phyllis long ago and we kept up with it until this last one. The name tells you all you need to know. It's the plan that you'll want to look at to get an idea of the suggestions you might make.

The Plan by Function developed as a reworking of the 1-3-5 Year Plan, and assigns goals suggested there to one or more categories of fire department functions, headed by a named member of the department. We'll assign these later but you might find the layout useful.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Testing the Pumper

Last Sunday morning Glenn and I drove the pumper twenty miles over to the Athens-Clarke County Fire Training Facility. That in itself was something of a challenge - our pumper is of 1987 vintage. Though 1987 was a good year, and though it has automatic transmission and power brakes and steering, it's still a large unwieldy truck carrying four tons of water. Here we are, below, all hooked up. In the background you'll see the 4-storey burn building at the Facility. Foreground is the swimming pool where the water for the tests is kept. Our pumper, which has an FMC body and a Caterpillar engine, needed its annual pump test, which is a requirement if you'd like, say, to get community insurance rates down. One big six-inch hose suctions water out of the pool (that's also part of the test - priming), and the truck delivered pumped water through three 2-3/4-inch hoses, (yellow lines in the photo below). The water in the pumper tank is actually never used. Above, you can see that the three hoses deliver water to a deck gun, which combines the streams and then measures the flow rate of the blast. The blast is directed to the concrete blast deflector, and back into the pond. The blast deflector is a little more obvious below. Here is a little detail that is important to what happened next: We operate the pump from the panel on the side of the truck, behind the driver's seat. There is a knob that you turn to change the rpms of the truck engine, which in turn operates the pump. That knob is hooked to the accelerator foot pedal through a cable. So back to the tests. There are three major tests, which operate the pump far above levels we would normally use (it's very loud!). The first one is for 20 continuous minutes at 1000 gallons per minute at a pressure of 150 psi (we'd normally not go above 100 psi). The pumper passed that one, but failed to get up to the necessary 250 psi for the last test. The fellow who was conducting the test said that he knew what might be the problem, and proved it by jumping into the cab and putting his foot on the accelerator. The pressure jumped up to the needed 250 psi. So the problem was the cable between the throttle control on the panel and the accelerator foot pedal. He popped the cab, tweaked the cable, and the pumper passed the tests with no problem. (He told us how to fix it permanently, and we did that at our regular training session on Thursday night. He also advised us that popping the cab is a lot easier with the doors open, and putting it back down is a lot easier with the doors closed.) Glenn and I walked around the facility. Here's the main building and on the left is the burn building I mentioned earlier. Here's the burn building from the other side, looking fairly well burned. Inside it's a torture chamber of rooms and stairs and such. This is the close quarters obstacle course. It's fully opened on the left, but somewhere in the middle they put in a horizontal floor that partitions the space into two sections. Now that is *very* cramped. Finally, we have dead cars for rescue training. Thanks to the two guys from Oconee and A-CC who did the pump testing. They said they'd gone through twelve trucks on Friday and had it down to a science. Even as we backed out of the bay, the next truck from Winterville was pulling up, so they did indeed have things scheduled well. And that was our late October Sunday.