Volunteer fire departments from the east side of the Helena Valley held joint tender and water supply training at Hauser Lake on Tuesday, August 28.
East Helena, East Valley, Eastgate, Tri-Lakes, and York volunteer fire departments all participated. It is the first time all five departments have trained at the same time.
Around 50 firefighters practiced mutual aid deployment and simulated responding to a significant structure fire in a rural location.
The goal of the exercise was to establish an endless water supply at the incident site by bringing in water from four separate supply points.
“It’s important to train because if you are on a structure fire and you run out of water, you run the risk of putting crews in harm’s way,” said East Valley Volunteer Fire Chief Dave Sammons.
Crews on hand said, though it might seem obvious, many parts of Montana do not have fire hydrants readily available so trucks are needed to transport the water to the scene.
Tri-Lakes Fire Chief Bob Drake said the event is a good reminder that the departments do not stand alone.
“We really depend on our mutual aid partners,” said Drake. “When we do need help, it’s seamless. Doesn’t matter what it says on the side of the truck or what color it is or anything else. We know exactly what each other is going to do and just makes everything flow smoother.”
Drake added that it takes a lot of finesse to make this all work between the fire departments and this practice helps immensely.
“It’s important for the public to see that we work together,” said Drake. “We do it all the time."
Beginning at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, August 29, Safeway on Prospect Avenue will hold a fundraiser for the Lewis and Clark Rural Fire Council with proceeds going directly to local fire departments.