Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Firefighters Refresh on Safety and Tactics for Wildfires

Warm and dry weather brings the threat of wildfire to Oregon. Hillsboro Firefighters took part in their annual wildland fire refresher course this week. The drill focused on Safety and Tactics. For firefighters accustomed to dealing with structure fires through a long rainy season, the refresher course was designed to ensure firefighter safety at all times. Much of the classroom sessions dealt with crew safety while a portion of the practical dealt with deploying their fire shelter. Real fire shelters are multi-layered with a foil-like exterior designed as a last stand should a wildfire overrun a fire crew's position. Often called a "shake and bake" due to the procedure, the shelters can save lives and must be deployed in 20 seconds. For practice, firefighters employ reuseable shelters rather than the one-time-use-only real shelters.

The second portion of the practical drill focused on tactics in fighting wildland fires in terrain found around Hillsboro. Firefighters used enlarged aerial photos and toy-like fire engines to "talk" through the tactics they would use in a wildland fire.

Firefighters have responded to several small bark dust and grass fires along major thoroughfares in Hillsboro recently. Most were caused by improper disposal of smoking materials. Hillsboro Fire and Rescue reminds you to use the ashtray, not the road way, for disposal of all smoking materials. For more fire and life safety information, visit www.ci.hillsboro.or.us/fire or call 503-681-6166.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fire Damages Hillsboro Duplex

A one-alarm fire late Sunday night caused extensive damage to a Hillsboro duplex. Hillsboro Fire and Rescue responded to the blaze at 11:29 pm at 155 NE Edison Street after a neighbor called 9-1-1 and reported seeing flames coming from one of the units. When the first arriving firefighters from the downtown Hillsboro Fire Station #1 arrived, they found heavy fire coming from the east side of the older duplex residence, with flames extending into the attic space. The lone occupant of the front apartment was still inside. 59-year old Sue Hughes was exiting the apartment as firefighters began attacking the flames. She reported one of two dogs she had in her home remained inside. Firefighters entered the apartment, located the small dog, and quickly brought it out to safety. The rear apartment was unoccupied.

Firefighters from Hillsboro Fire and Rescue, along with an engine company from Washington County Fire District #2, brought the flames under control in about 20-minutes. No one was injured.

Hughes told firefighters that she was asleep when she awoke to a loud popping noise. Moments later, her smoke alarm activated. She went to the kitchen to investigate and found the curtains and wall engulfed in flames. She escaped unharmed.

The fire heavily damaged the rear apartment, caused some moderate damage to the kitchen of Hughes apartment and produced light smoke damage to the rest of her home. Due to the damage in her apartment, Hughes will be staying with a relative. She had no renters insurance.

Fire investigators are examining the evidence at the scene and will interview witnesses to determine the origin and cause of the fire. Damage estimates are still being tallied.

Hillsboro Fire and Rescue reminds you to ensure your smoke alarms work properly by testing them monthly. Additionally, every home should have an escape plan that every member has practiced. Have a meeting place outside, preferably in the front to ensure everyone is out. And once outside, never go back into a burning home for any reason. For more fire and life safety information, visit: www.ci.hillsboro.or.us/fire or call 503-681-6166.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fire Damages Gas Station Building

A one-alarm fire caused an estimated 60-thousand dollars in damage to the building housing the Airport 76 Gas and Market at 1729 NE Cornell Road Thursday.

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Two residents of an apartment complex behind the gas station ran into the facility to report the fire to the employees inside. All employees and customers of the store escaped unharmed.

Firefighters from Hillsboro Fire and Rescue responded to the blaze at 2:36 pm. The first arriving company, Engine 5 from the Parkwood Station, found heavy fire and thick black smoke coming from a storage area behind the building. They quickly deployed two hose lines and began attacking the flames. Moments later, the flames burned through the electrical service line feeding the building dropping the energized wires onto one of the fire hoses. Firefighters had to abandon that hose and pull additional lines to continue fighting the fire. Despite the hazard, they brought the flames under control in about 14-minutes. Damage was confined to the rear storage area and wall of the building with some fire damage in the ceiling area nearest the fire. Additionally, the building and products inside suffered some light smoke damage.

The fire produced such thick black smoke outside that at least two neighboring businesses chose to temporarily close and evacuated their buildings. Public safety officers did not order their evacuation. The businesses reopened after firefighters had the blaze under control. Fire investigators are interviewing witnesses and examining evidence at the scene in an effort to determine a cause for the fire.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hillsboro Firefighters Swing into Action for Charity

Golf Tourney

Above: Firefighter Ted Whiteman, a member of Random Acts of Kindness program, checks out a 2009 Kawasaki Teryx LE 750 valued at $11,549 courtesy of Motorsport Hillsboro. The ATV will be one of the prizes for a hole-in-one at the charity's golf tournament June 10th.

Off duty Hillsboro Firefighters are hanging up their axes and hoses for a day on June 10th to help conduct a charity golf tournament at The Reserve Vineyard and Golf Club, 4805 SW 229th Avenue, Aloha. The event is designed to help generate funds for two worthy causes: The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Hillsboro Firefighters Random Acts of Kindness program. Both are 501(c)3 charities and each receives half of the net proceeds from the event.

“We are hoping that golfers of all skill levels will join us for a great day of golf at the beautiful Reserve Golf Club as we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and we help those who need assistance due to hardships from an emergency,” said Hillsboro Fire Chief Gary Seidel. The Radom Acts of Kindness effort began in 1994 by local firefighters.

“We help people every day in the course of our job,” said Firefighter Ted Whiteman, “But, of course, we can’t use taxpayer funds to help solve many of the citizens’ needs following their emergency. That’s where Random Acts of Kindness comes in.” The group has provided aid in many forms, such as building a wheelchair ramp for a senior citizen, paying for plumbing repairs of a woman recently widowed, and providing a bus ticket and food for a traveler stranded and without cash.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation was created to honor fallen fire heroes and help their families and coworkers. The organization offers direct assistance to firefighters’ families following a line of duty death; scholarships for spouses and children of firefighters killed in action; and networking and grief support for families and coworkers following a death.

The 2009 Golf Tournament kicks off with a 1:30 pm shotgun tee-off (Registration opens at 12:00) and is followed by a dinner buffet, silent auction and awards from 5:30 to 7:15 pm. Individuals may play for $150 and a team may play for $500. The price includes 18 holes of best ball scramble golf, the awards buffet, a gift bag for each golfer, and participation in the silent auction.

There are still sponsorships opportunities available. They range from $500 for a cart sponsor to $100 for a bunker sponsor. If you are unable to play on June 10th, you can make a direct contribution in several ways: a check to the Hillsboro Random Acts of Kindness, a check to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation or donation of a silent auction item. For more information or to register for the tournament, contact the Hillsboro Fire Department at 503-681-6166.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Car Crash Drills

One of the most common type of calls at a Hillsboro Fire Department is a motor vehicle accident (MVA). While they are frequent, the variety of positions in which cars come to rest and the need to quickly extricate occupants requires regular training to ensure all is done safely.

Hillsboro Firefighters this week are drilling on stabilizing cars found on their side, accessing the patients by removing the vehicle roof, and immobilizing the patient to protect the spine from further injury. Firefighters are using wrecked cars provided generously by Hillsboro Towing to practice on.

The drills include using stabilizing jacks, chock blocks, and other means to keep the cars from rolling over and injuring firefighters. They then use power tools, including hydraulic cutters often referred to as "The Jaws of Life," along with common electric Saws All to cut the side posts and remove the roof of the car. This allows access to the patient.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Burn pile explosion injures one

Hillsboro fire investigators say an aerosol can exploded in a backyard burn pile Saturday sending one person to the hospital.

Hillsboro Fire Department reminds you that household garbage is prohibited in backyard burn piles or barrels. For more information on backyard burning, visit www.ci.hillsboro.or.us/fire/burn.aspx or call the Hillsboro Backyard Burn Information Line at 503-631-6204.

Joint Water Rescue Drill at Hagg Lake

Hillsboro Fire Department joined Forest Grove Fire and Rescue for a joint water rescue drill on Hagg Lake on Friday, May 15th. Firefighters from both agencies drilled on ways to quickly and efficiently deploy rescue swimmers from a boat in swift water or from a craft still at speed. Additionally, they practiced methods for bringing aboard patients on a backboard or in a life jacket and recovering unconscious or deceased persons. For more on water safety for children, visit: http://kidshealth.org/teen/safety/safebasics/water_safety.html

Thursday, May 14, 2009

EMS Week May 17-23

Every firefighter at Hillsboro Fire and Rescue is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). There are three levels of certification: Basic, Intermediate, and Paramedic. Each level allows the firefighter/medic to perform different levels of treatment with the Paramedic having the most latitude to perform advanced life support procedures in the field.

May 17 through 23rd is National Emergency Medical Services week, a time when we recognize the valuable role that our EMTs play in pre-hospital care. They work along side of dedicated ambulance medics and hospital emergency department physicians and staff to provide an advanced emergency medical system.

Hillsboro Fire stations are strategically positioned around the community to be ready to fight fire. Because we are close by and trained to handle medical emergencies, a fire engine or truck company is dispatched every time you call 9-1-1 for an ambulance. Our crews can often arrive first and begin life-saving treatment, when necessary. Once the ambulance arrives, the patient is handed off to them for transport to an area hospital. It's a seamless system that provides the public with the highest level of service possible.

Juvenile Fire Setting

In the past six weeks, our Public Education staff have provided specialized education for several area youth who have misused fire. Some were referred by parents who caught their children playing with matches. Others were required to see us as a result of a referral by the Washington County Juvenile Department.

Our fire department particpates in a Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Network that can help youth who have an unhealthy fascination with fire. A confidential screening at the fire station and an hour of education here may be all that is needed. For other children who may have additional decision-making problems, we refer them to a wonderful program provided by the Fire Safe Families and Children organization. These age-appropriate classes run one night a week for six or eight weeks and help youth learn good life skills as well as how to be fire-safe at home.

Contact the Public Education staff at Hillsboro Fire Department, 503-681-6166, if you have questions about youths you know to be misusing fire.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wildfire Awareness Week

May 3-9 was wildfire awareness week in Oregon. The week reminds us to follow several rules in handling fire outdoors any place and any time:
  • Call your local fire department before you burn. In Hillsboro, call 503-681-6204.
  • Burn only backyard debris.
  • If you are using a burn barrel, cover it with a 1/4-inch mesh screen.
  • Keep burn barrels away from overhanging structures, trees or vehicles.
  • Keep piles small. Add debris to the small pile as it burns down.
  • Make sure your fire is out! Dead out! Drown, stir, drown.

What makes Oregon and Hillsboro beautiful are the great trees and beautiful greenery. That's what also makes us at risk for an urban interface fire. Use caution whenever you use fire!

Big Water Drill

Many room and contents fires can be extinguished with a 1.5-inch hose line and small amounts of water. However, there are fires that advance in size before discovery and require large amounts of water coming from many hose lines. That is a time for what's called "big water." Big water comes from 2.5-inch hose lines hooked to a portable monitor (see photo), from the "deck gun" fixed monitor atop a fire engine, or from the elevated master stream from the extended ladder of a ladder truck.

Rope Rescue Drills

Hillsboro firefighters attend seasonal trainings for special rescue situations. Each spring, they go through a refresher course for the veterans in the skills of high angle and low angle rope rescue. While all firefighters have a basic knowledge of these skills, our Technical Rescue Technicians have advanced training and normally respond to critical incidents requiring their special skills. The first arriving engine company can often begin the process of setting up a rope system to speed up rescue when the Technical Rescue Technicians arrive.