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June 20, 2013
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Taming flames in Tahoe

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — A cool morning dawned at Northstar Friday, June 14, where local, state and federal firefighting agencies gathered en force for a wildland, structure and fire safety training.

Engines glistened red and chrome and U. S. Forest Service green, lined up at the Castle Peak parking lot more than 20 in a row.

The Joint Training Officers Association meets regularly to develop trainings to help the entire community, according to Northstar Fire Department’s Public Information Officer Capt. Jason Gibaut.

Three areas were designated per the Incident Action Plan: 1. Skidder, 2. Sawmill and 3. Indian Hills. Strike teams of five engines, water tender and incident command vehicle were dispatched to the locations with a sense of urgency, as if the scenarios were actual events. In the case of an actual event, the Skidder strike team would be dispatched.

Situational awareness and communication were emphasized, with Calfire’s Battalion Chief Troy Adamson urging safety as a main ingredient for the drill, including driving 5 mph under the speed limit.

The firefighters reviewed deploying their fire shelters, also. “This is a last-ditch effort, in case they can’t make it to a safety zone,” said Gibaut. A “favorite” for every trainee, the shelters are made of two separate materials, one insulating to reflect the heat and one to repel flame.

Temperatures, depending on the type of fuel and size of the fire, can reach up to 1,500° F. Note: Remove flares from pockets before shake and baking in fire shelter.

Type III engines, with smaller water tanks, four wheel drive and additional pick axes, give crews the mobility crucial for wildland events. Northstar Fire Capt. Jim Conlin, calls this “bump and go,” with hand crews digging brush and cutting trees. The engine’s water tank carries 300-500 gallons, with capacity to apply 200 gallons per minute when using inch and 3/4 hose.

Truckee Fire Protection District (TFPD) Capt. Kenny Osburn put together the Incident Action Plan (IAP) for the training.

A big shout out was given to Northstar Resort and residents, for providing space and cooperation for the event.

“Northstar provides an excellent training ground for a major fire event in this region,” said Northstar Health and Safety Manager Scott Sibillia. “We are really grateful to be able to provide the support and resources so these fire agencies can come together and learn to work as a team. We are committed to our surrounding communities and environment. In the event of an actual emergency, this sort of exercise is extremely valuable.”

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jun 23, 2013 02:15PM Published Jun 26, 2013 04:03PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.