SPOKANE, Wash. - While the fire continues near Leavenworth, departments closer to Spokane are doing what they can to prepare for the season.
Spokane Valley firefighters protect us from structure fires all year long, but wildfires aren't something they see a whole lot of.
On Wednesday, they had a chance to sharpen their outdoor skills.
“At the beginning of every summer, our department takes some time to refresh ourselves with wildfire operations,” said Rick Freier, Spokane Valley Fire Department. “We don't deal with this everyday, so this is an opportunity for our department to get their guys on the line spun up, so that we can watch out for the people we protect.”
Miles from a paved road, Spokane Valley firefighters were intentionally out of their element Wednesday, preparing to save those houses in their district who could be at risk from an unforgiving fire.
And what better place to practice than privately-owned land near a home.
“It's nice when we can go out and train in a real environment,” said Freier. “Obviously we've got some hills, we've got some trees. So the cooperation with this group of homeowners is awesome. We can't stress enough how thankful we are to be able to use this ground.”
The trade-off makes sense—homeowners offer up their underbrush and local firefighters sharpen their forest fire skills.
And if professional firefighters can take a refresher course once a week, we can certainly brush up on our knowledge.
“If you live in a rural area—make sure your driveway is clearly marked with your address,” said Freier. “When you're talking about your house, clean your gutters and your roof. You don't want a bunch of pine needles on that stuff. If there's any concealed spaces under your desk, get all that debris out of the way. Have a plan to get out. The time to plan for a wildfire is before it happens, not the day before it happens.”
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