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30-plus Tenders from Seven Counties Haul Water in Austin County, Texas
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By Adjunct Instructor Mark Wobus (Photo credit to the photographers)
November 8, 2018

Firefighters in Austin County, Texas started the day of July 17, 2018 with a fire at Western International Gas and Cylinder. The call came into 911 dispatch just before 0600 hrs reporting acetylene bottles on fire. By the end of the day the fire progressed to multiple buildings involved and required the response of fire departments from seven counties. Western International Gas and Cylinder is an industrial/commercial business located outside of Bellville, Texas and services and sells all styles of hydro-gas bottles and hydraulic cylinders for commercial and industrial uses.

Responding firefighters were delayed due to foggy weather and morning commuter traffic and arrived on scene to find heavy fire and smoke coming from one of the buildings in the complex. After initial size-up and identifying no nearby water supply, a water shuttle operation was the plan for getting water to fight this fire. Austin County firefighters had trained for this day, when GBW Associates had instructed a Rural Water Supply Operations Seminar in February 2017. Many of the responding departments to this fire had attended that seminar where they were able to flow 1,180 GPM...proving that they could get the water to the scene and onto the fire.

The scene on July 19th however was going to require more water and more resources. The resources came from seven different counties and included; a tower ladder, multiple engines, 2 Haz-Mat Teams, multiple Rehab/Support groups and over 30-plus tankers hauling water to support 9 dump tanks on the ground holding close to 25,000 gallons of water. Water was hauled from 2 different municipal water systems; one on each side of the scene. Each trip took a tanker roughly 15-20 minutes to return, so the need for multiple tankers was important.

The water shuttle supported a tower ladder, multiple deck guns and several ground monitors. When help was called, help came! The two municipal water systems provided personnel at each fill site to assist in filling tankers and even a local concrete company provided two concrete trucks to haul water at 1,500 gallons each to the scene. Fill time for the mixer trucks was slower, but off-loading was extremely fast.

The day was long, but at the end of it all, the fire was out. A fire watch was established overnight with no significant problems or actions being required. Several departments will need to have equipment replaced due to contamination and or damage. Western Gas is working with local fire departments to replace that equipment and also accepting recommendations from these departments for rebuilding the business and providing better on-site fire suppression equipment and the availability of an on-site water source.

Rural water supply training, you never know when it will come in handy!

(The photos for this news came to us 3rd party and from several sources...thus, all credit goes to the folks who took the photos...thanks).


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