Firefighters Train To Get River Water To Rural Areas Faster - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Firefighters Train To Get River Water To Rural Areas Faster

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When fires strike in rural communities in Iowa and Illinois, many local departments face challenges. A big concern is getting water to where they need it. Today, firefighters from across the Quad Cities Area came together for a seminar on rural water supply operation. Firefighters say many small-town departments lack the equipment and training to effectively fight a lot of rural fires. Fire hydrants are typically only stationed in town, and even communities along the Mississippi River, where there is a lot of water, have faced issues with getting that water out to where it's needed. That's where this two-day training in Port Byron comes in, using a specialized system meant to make getting water out of the Mississippi easier and faster. Firefighters say it could save more lives.

"Every time, water is your concern," said Chief Don Carey of the Rapid City Fire Protection District. "What we're trying to do is say, 'How can we flow the most water we can at one time?'" 

Firefighters are using a water eduction system meant to efficiently take water out of the Mississippi River. Almost 45 firefighters practiced by pulling water out of the river at Rapid City, hauling it around two miles away to Port Byron, a 23-minute round trip. Fol-Da-Tank provided the specialized equipment, which the company's vice president, Chad Christensen, says would have helped when putting out the Prophetstown fire that burned down several downtown buildings last July. The town's water tower, and the one in neighboring Lyndon, were drained dry. 

"This is where an eduction system would have benefited them, and they would have been able to establish a steadier water flow to the fire in Prophetstown," Christensen said.

Area firefighters say the goal is to flow 750 gallons of water per minute. Today, in training, they hit 500.

"That's where we wanted to be, but we see some gaps we have, and that's why we're doing this training," Chief Carey said.

Firefighters say the seminar will not only improve operations, but also help lower insurance rates for people who live more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant.

"If we can save some folks some money, and make ourselves more proficient in what we're doing, it's a win for everybody."

The firefighters who took part in the training come from Galva, Aledo, Dewitt, LeClaire and more. Similar courses are held in rural areas across the US. This is the first time it has been held in Port Byron.


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