Monthly Archives: March 2015

Dogs on Fire Watch

Fire Dog*by Chad Wittenberg

“Imagine my surprise when I come home from basketball games all day stressing out because I was certain I had missed some action during the day.

I found the Fire Dept on the road in front of my place.

Its a good thing because it was headed right at us and nobody was home. Nice stop!

Even the dogs were thankful.

Multiple Department Response – Wildland Fire

*Photo Chad Wittenberg
*Photo Chad Wittenberg
Late afternoon yesterday firefighters responded to a large grassland fire east of Towanda. But, it wasn’t long before support was requested from Augusta and El Dorado.

The fire put a number of homes in danger before firefighters got it under control. No homes were damaged. The fire covered in the range of one square mile.

Great job done by all.

Fire Truck Modifications – The Mitchell Questionnaire

mITCHELL QUESTIONThe big gong slammed the sides of the brass bell as it rocked back and forth in its cradle. The message “wasn’t” that it was lunch time. This was a fire message and the firefighters heard it.

Two of the responders were Fred Brodbeck and Raymond Miller – fire chief and driver. Their means of travel was a Mitchell car with a custom rear bed that carried firefighting equipment. This was a custom addition designed by the chief.

They raced down Ohio Street and just as they were approaching the Iron Street Bridge a horse and buggy pulled onto the street. Miller swerved but the car caught the rear of the buggy and launched the car down the banks of the Smoky Hill River.

Brodbeck was seriously injured in the accident and was taken to the hospital with a compound leg fracture. Unfortunately, this was well before we knew how to treat infection. Gangrene set in and the chief died five days later at the age of 39.

Brodbeck came to Salina, Kansas from Chicago. The local press chronicled the innovative things he implemented. Many of them were successful, but unfortunately one was the Mitchell modification.

Those of us in wild land firefighting have to be master innovators too. Standard trucks are converted into fire trucks. Military trucks are converted into fire trucks. All terrain vehicles are converted into fire trucks.

Most of our changes are good, but are there possibly some Mitchell modifications? Before you make modifications to a truck ask yourself some questions.

Have you exceeded the vehicle’s weight capacity? Turning ability could be adversely affected. Braking could be adversely affected. Rollover potential could be heightened.

Are undercarriage components heat resistant? Plastic brake lines could melt from heat. Fuel lines could do the same. This could happen at the most inopportune time, possibly endangering the lives of firefighters.

Have you designed rear-riding locations properly? Hand rails must be present and must be adequate. Some type of belting system needs to be present. Sharp cornered impact points should be eliminated or covered.

Are you changing a key operational component? You should not change the size of a truck’s tires without getting a stamp of approval from the manufacturer. Too small of tires might cause a heat build-up on brake pads.

Let a picture of the Brodbeck accident be your visual reminder. Prepare a list of safety questions before making any truck modifications. A good name for it might be The Mitchell Questionnaire.

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Bomb & Meth Lab Class

Bomb classThe emergency tone just sounded – “El Dorado Fire and EMS – respond to an emergency overdose.”

Just yesterday El Dorado Firefighters Chris McGathy, Rodney Reed, Brice Denton, and Scott VanPatten attended a training class in Wichita titled Bomb and Meth Lab Class.

The students were shown different ways that methamphetamine drugs are made. Instructors showed the containers frequently used, the products used, booby traps sometimes set.

Then the students were shown how people produce homemade bombs. Again, instructors went over tale-tale signs of recognizing bomb manufacturing.

The class concluded with a live demonstration of a homemade bomb being detonated. The bomb was placed in a small thermos cooler. Firefighter Denton was able to video the detonation.

Firefighter McGathy said the video doesn’t do justice to first-hand witnessing it – especially the sound.