Roanoke County firefighters prepare for wildfires, all types of terrain

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter

ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10)-- With many different terrains and regions, firefighters in Roanoke County have to be prepared for all circumstances-- from tightly built communities and neighborhoods to sprawling fields and even huge wooded areas, they cover a lot of ground.

Those wooded areas really present a special set of circumstances, especially during this dry and windy time of the year when we're seeing an increased risk for wildfires. The crews spend a lot of time training, including real life situations. Roanoke County firefighters have been called into other states and regions to help with fires-- that's training they'll bring back to our region.

Advanced training like that could be used not only for fighting a fire, but also in a rural house situation when their typical techniques wouldn't apply.

"Sometimes we have limited access," says Battalion Chief Brian Witt. "The truck may not be able to cross the bridge or access a particular driveway. That may cause them to dig into their training a little to overcome those issues."

That training includes finding other water sources when fire hydrants aren't around. Some of the trucks used by firefighters have special hoses that they can use to pull water from a nearby pool or dam up a creek to get water from a natural source.

When they're not out responding to calls and fighting fires, these crews are definitely not bored, they've got a lot of other work to get done during their 24-hour shifts as well.

They do near everything together, from cooking meals to working out, the crews feel more like a family than a group of coworkers. They even have daily chores, like cleaning up the station.

When a call comes in and it's time to respond, things get a lot more serious-- which means protecting not only the community members, but each other as well.

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