Plano firefighters prep for real-life disasters

In a city better known for urban sprawl than wide open wilderness, firefighters are preparing for natural disaster.

The training will help firefighters in Plano sharpen their skills against Texas range fires. The Plano Fire Department provides mutual aid statewide and is routinely called upon to help battle wildfires in places like the Hill Country and Possum Kingdom Lake.

Firefighters trained in wildfire suppression on Tuesday and sharpened their skills to prepare for a real-life event.

The firefighters used a five-acre piece of land that is nestled in the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. It was covered in a thick layer of thatch to conduct their training exercise.

“Were using it to replicate a fire environment. We’re using live fire,” explained Michael Covey with Plano Fire Rescue. “We’re doing it in a controlled environment, trying to watch the fire behavior and learn from it.”

The FOX 4 Drone offered a unique perspective of the sloping terrain divided by a walking trail. The area is filled with dry branches and leaves. Both are a key fuel source for igniting a wildfire.

The winds were a little unpredictable during the exercise, which Plano firefighters say was a good challenge for them. It forced them to battle the natural elements as they would do so in a wildfire.

“We’re going to use different tools to try and control the fire besides water,” Covey said. “We have hand tools. We have blowers.”

The firefighters worked in teams. Some observed the weather conditions and nearby homes while others set the fires.

Everything went as planned during the exercise. But the highly-skilled men and women know that in a real-life scenario, the circumstances can change in a matter of seconds.

The Plano firefighters hope to hold similar exercises in future and partner up with surrounding departments.

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