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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
January 8, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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January 8, 2014

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16B Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 uulletln, Kecorcl, Progressive, Reporter Firefighters learn to move "big water" to fight bigfires INSIDE THE FIREHOUSE TOM FORSTER Assistant Fire Chief Plumas Eureka Fire Department firefighters to participate. There is an old saying in the fire service about the volume of water needed to control and extinguish fires: "Small fire, small water; big fire, big water." The recent fires in downtown Quincy and in Loyalton were examples of "big fire" requiring "big water" to be applied for containment and extinguishment. In the case of the Quincy fire, more than 4,000 gallons of water per minute was needed at the height of the fire, or more than 16 tons of water per minute To supply that kind of flow requires a large water supply, and several large pumping engines. Most fire engines known as "Type l's" can pump between 1,000 to 1,500 gallons per minute, as can the typical ladder truck such as the one used to fight the Quincy fire. This requires engineers to access a large:water supply and then use a variety of fire hose sizes, lengths and nozzles or monitors to place the water where it will do the most good. The role of the engineer is Critical to make that happen, as the variety of needs requires coordination and differ6nt operating pressures and controls. Radio i, . . commumcatlons must be maintained between the officer and the firefighter/nozzle operators and the engineers for a successful outcome. Smaller fire hose lines can Fifteen students, along with their teachers, commemorate successfully completing the recent engine pump operations course, which included hands-on skills tests and a written exam. Photos by Maureen Forster be more maneuverable but flow less water, while larger lines are less mobile but can flow the volume needed to combat the major heat output of large fires. Both types of tools are needed to control fires. At the Quincy fire, for example, firefighters needed smaller hose lines to be able to operate on ground ladders or inside the threatened structure that was saved, while the large ladder truck was used to flow large volumes down on the heart of the fire. "Everybody did a great job," said Quincy Fire Chief Robbie Cassou, "including our engineers and truck operator." Plumas Eureka Fire Chief Gary Castagnetti is one of several instructors now certified to teach the courses, and volunteered to lead both. He was assisted by Quincy Fire Chief Robbie Cassou and the author. "We are very proud of our graduates, and look forward to offering more classes in the future," said Chief Castagnetti. Fifteen firefighters from Plumas County fire departments recently completed a 40-hour fire engine pump operations class taught over two weekends in Graeagle. Driver Operator 1B is a certified course iri the California Fire Service Training and Education System, offered through the state fire marshal's office, taught by local instructors. Driver Operator 1A was taught earlier this year, and focused primarily on safe truck driving skills and maintenance awareness. The 1B course was focused on fireground pump operations and troubleshooting, and included hands-on practice at several skills stations set up outside the Graeagle Fire Station. The Plumas County Fire Chiefs Association sponsored both courses. Graduates of the two programs are then typically qualified as engineers, or known as fire equipment operators (FEOs), both driving the apparatus and operating the pump. The role is challenging, requiring both driving and pumping skills be ]earned, practiced and maintained. The pumping skill requires knowledge of "fireground hydraulics," or the science of moving water. Various pressure gauges, formulas and job aids are used to calculate both water intake and discharge pressures to assure safe and proper water supply to handle fires. Typically, these classes are taught around the state in a one-week format, Monday throughFriday. This makes it difficult for volunteer firefighters to attend, given that most are emPloyed and working during those hours. This class was taught with two Friday night sessions and then over two weekends to make it easier for volunteer i [~~ ~0 sen a ea ~s'ngO~'umasnws cml To send an advertisement: States e Graeagle firefighter engineers Dianne Buckhout (left) and Julie Cassou practice operating the complex pump panel on their fire engine to control water flow. Students practice flowing "big water" using a large-diameter 5-inch water su pply line from a hydrant and then operating discharge lines through the fire engine pump panel to the monitor flowing 1,000 gallons per minute. Forest P!{, mas The USDA Forest Service is an equal I U e 'vic Nast cmaI Forest opportunity service providerand employer. B RAT, from page 15B the winner after a series of the people barely mumbled elimination bouts. The hello. It was a quantum leap:: community's very honor was for both of us. .: wonder if Wayne Gretzky got challenged derisively. Paul Henry Jenner, who his start near a railroad ice Every tough, strong man in quit school at age 14 to I deck. Portola, railroaders to the as a call boy, was now Rails and their families contrary notwithstanding, assistant to general manage : had very few professional took umbrage, thinking he in charge of safety rules and':{ entertainment e tlets,in ,: ..... could whip this lowlife, thus instruction, an "officer" or those days. One of the most insuring Portola's dignity : : ?mar3,agement," as they say.i A virtual mob of Since record ofth exciting times, though, was when the carnival or so-called tent show came to town. Once in a while a Ferris wheel and other rides would be provided, but most of the time the tent show consisted of just a very large tent with various side shows and demonstrations inside. For example, there was a fat lady who you had to pay extra to see. You could also throw a ball at a guy sitting in a chair If you hit the buil's eye, he would be dumped in water. There were also those devices that looked like binoculars affixed to a machine through which, for a nickel, you could peep at a picture of a lady that was not a lady or a man, but both an honest-to-goodness real-life hermaphrodite. We kids tried desperately to look in these machines because most of our education in such matters had been provided by National Geographic and magazines like Sunshine and Health Nudist, which had been swiped from the local smoke shop. The most rousing events in the tent show, though, were the boxing matches. The carnival invariably had a former professional boxer of low national ranking among its employees. Management would announce that their boxer wo~ld ch~enge any guy in town to fight with a big purse being awarded to and fame. contestants lined up to fight. The carnival shill would invariably take a dive in one of the later fights, a local tough, not infrequently a railroader, being declared victor. This, of course, would foment a huge crowd for the rematch, which the carnival entrant usually won by a dramatic knockout in the last round. More than one rail bit the dust. The abused fans lost not only their admission money but whatever bets they had placed on the fight. Years later I met an old Shoshone Piute native in Cedarville. He told me that years ago he had fought in these tent shows and had been hired out of Reno to travel with the circus, specifically to garner money in staged fights. He said the toughest fights were with railroaders, who were "smarter than the loggers or miners." He was 95 and didn't have a scratch. God bless America. The most miserable day of my life was July 1, 1946. That was the day my dad was promoted to headquarters, 526 Mission St., San Francisco. He was "kicked upstairs," trading his overalls for a suit while his kid traded the wide-ranging adventures of a rambunctious railroad town for the fog-swept and lonely streets of a huge city where railroad was poor, brass had- finally realized that something drastic had to be ' done. He was assigned an : ? instruction coach that was hitched to various trains anff ported over the Western Pacific line from Oakland to Salt Lake for the purpose of = holding 16ctures on operating and air brake rules and all other aspects of railroad safety. The coach was a marvel to behold. It had room for 20 or : more students and all the accoutrements of a true classroom. Also included were a kitchen, bed and small living area a self-contained home away ='? from home. He must have fel$ like Lucius Beebe being hauled around in a luxuriou private Pullman. Far cry : from the 14-year-old call boy of 1916! Boomer "ptilled the pin" ' and went "whistling oiT' in 1963 after 46 years of service.= The coach sits today in the yard at the museum, [{ awaiting restoration under the able guidance of Norm ::: Holmes, museum founder :.:: and director. As for me, I left with only memories of those halcyon days growing in a zany, broad-minded up railroad community that afforded more adventures > than even Huck Finn could endure. What more could Railroad Brat ask? Life was good.