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Grants Pass firefighters training Tennessee firefighters

The crew is learning how to fight big, aggressive fires.

Posted: Sep 4, 2019 6:25 PM
Updated: Sep 4, 2019 6:40 PM

MERLIN, Ore. -- Firefighters came all the way from Knoxville, Tennessee to learn more about wildland fires. The 3-team crew got here on Monday and will be here until September 9. Right now, Rural Metro Fire is teaching them wildland suppression tactics used to fight Oregon wildfires.

One technique they are learning is how to get 400 feet of hose on the ground with as little as just two or three people working. Austin Prince, Division Chief Rural Metro Fire, said, "This technique is one they haven't used in Tennessee before. So we're demonstratin certain hose configurations, the way they're loaded into certain bags we use and how they're deployed."

The Knoxville Rural Metro Fire captain, Brad Retting, said they're working to build a natural hazards team in order to expand their knowledge when responding to things like flooding, fires and tornadoes.

Retting said, "We have a team of 21 firefighters that are becoming certified in different disciplines that would help in those events."

That's one reason they're working on learning more about wildland fires. Another reason, Tennessee's wildfires are rare.

"That may not sound like a problem, but when it does happen, we have some serious fires," Retting said. 

If their crews aren't trained with the proper techniques, they might not work as efficiently.

"In the longrun that can cause loss of property and potentially get you into dangerous situations that you may not realize because that situation doens't come up very often."

Prince said this is an opportunity for the Knoxville team to learn fire techniques used on bigger, more aggressive fires, "By bringing them here, it gets these guys ready and they go back and teach their folks."

In addition to learning, the Knoxville team is also acting as a helping hand and going on any calls Southern Oregon may need help with. In fact, the moment their plane landed from Tennessee, they went to a house fire. 

"We threw our gear on and hopped right in," Retting said. "And that was our introduction to the team... it was awesome."

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