Sublette County Unified Fire Department Open House
by Terry Allen
October 11, 2016
Fire truck after fire truck pulled up to the front of the firehouse in Pinedale and loaded up kids for a ride. Sirens screaming and horns honking the heavy diesels carried full cabs of kids around the block to give them a new perspective and maybe inspire a new volunteer or two.
Joe Sampson said they had given rides to 145 kids before the fire demo and would continue doing so after the demo.
The fire demo was the burning of two structures set up in the firehouse parking lot. They were designed to simulate a residence, coming complete with a couch, shower curtain, carpet, sheetrock walls and a few other household items.
Fire hose teams geared up as completely as if they had been dispatched to a real event. The fireman charged with setting fire to the structures threw a flare into the first one and in what seemed like under a minute a monster of a flame had engulfed the building in 3000 degree flames. A fire team of three or four hugged a firehose and directed it at the locations in the structure fire science has taught them it would be most effective. But, not quickly enough if there has been a person or a pet trapped inside, because no one can survive such heat and smoke.
The second structure had a sprinkler system. A flare was thrown in, fire erupted and at 500 degrees the sprinkler came on and almost immediately put the fire out in seconds. The difference between the two fires was stunning.
Joe said house fires didn't use to be like this. Homes and contents used to be made of wood, wool and other natural materials and burned slowly. So slow that you might have 20 minutes to get out of your house. Now, they are made mostly of petroleum based materials and you have only seconds. The toxic fumes may incapacitate you before the fire kills you.
Our Unified fire people visit schools a lot and the fire thing they teach the most is to get out and shut the door behind them. They teach the kids to break one part of the Triangle. Air, fuel and heat. If you can take one of the three items out of the equation, you can subdue or kill a fire. Fire can't survive without oxygen, so getting out and closing the door are the two most important things to remember.
Until this demonstration, I had a very unrealistic and delusional opinion of my ability to enter a structure and save personal items, people or pets. After seeing how fast the fumes and fire and heat built to impossible temperatures, I have a new reality.
"It is not survivable," said Joe. "Even our guys with all their gear have a very short amount of time to enter a structure before their face shield starts to go."