Large scale fire department exercise deemed a success

Nearly 80 firefighters from several area fire departments took part Monday in a training hosted by the Baroda Fire Department. Here, water delivered by tanker trucks is sprayed from Bridgman Fire Department’s ladder truck.

BARODA — Fighting fires in rural areas can be a challenge.

Some 80 firefighters from 15 area departments took part this week in a large scale training exercise designed to make them better prepared to meet that challenge.

The training was hosted by Baroda Fire Department.

Lt. Griffin Ott said the training was designed to test the ability to provide a constant water flow of at least 2,000 gallons per minute through a ladder truck, using something called a tender shuttle. Firefighters use tankers and establish a tanker shuttle operation using drop tanks.

Use of tenders is on the rise as a means of getting a continuous flow of water to a fire scene when hydrants are not available. Ott said this is the case in most of Baroda Township and much of Berrien County. Getting adequate water to those locations is essential to saving lives and property, he said, but it takes fill site management, effective communication and teamwork.

Griffin said developing, practicing and testing these systems helps improve a fire department’s rating and can help decrease home insurance rates in non-hydrated areas. He said home insurance rates are partially based upon the responding fire department’s ISO rating, with water supply being 40 percent of the rating. A company called Insurance Services Office creates ratings for fire departments by calculating how well-equipped they are to put out fires in their community.

The ISO provides the score to insurance companies that set insurance rates for homeowners. The more well-equipped the fire department is to put out a fire, the less likely a house will burn down. That makes insuring a house less risky, and therefore less expensive. The lower the ISO rating, the better, with 1 being the best possible rating and 10 meaning the fire department did not meet the ISO’s minimum requirement.

The training this week by the area fire departments was the largest fire department exercise of its kind in the area, Ott said. The goal was to provide a water flow of at least 2,000 gallons per minute. Ott said the results showed a capability to maintain a rate of 2,100 gallons-per-minute for 15 minutes. Equipment used included 15 tankers, eight engines, four brush trucks, three support vehicles and one ladder truck.

Departments participating included Baroda, Bridgman, Lake Township, Lincoln Township, Galien, Royalton Township, Weesaw Township, Berrien Springs, Eau Claire, Buchanan Township, Sodus Township, Bertrand Township, Three Oaks, Watervliet and Sister Lakes.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter: @HPSwidwa