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Fire crews participate in county-wide spring fire training

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RONAN — Spring fire training with a live burn and helicopter air operations practice took place at the CSKT Division of Fire Management headquarters on Saturday, May 18.

Crews managing fires from wildland to structures came together to build camaraderie and skills. This year’s event was hosted by the Lake County Fire Association, CSKT Division of Fire Management, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources. 

Firefighters from volunteer crews across the county participated in various training exercises in preparation for the upcoming fire season. 

Fire expert Charles Headley said: “We have three scenario-based, team-building exercises today. The first is the pump and roll live fire exercise. Then, out back, we have some other team-based scenarios going on. Inside, we have operations planning with sand tables based on actual fires.” 

Paul Adams, St. Ignatius fire chief, said: “This is my first year being an IC (incident commander), and I am a new fire chief for St. Ignatius, so I don’t have a world of experience, but if you had to add up all the experience gathered here today you would probably have over 500 years of it.” 

The team-building event allowed newer firefighters time to learn from more experienced firefighters. 

During one exercise, teams worked together with walkie-talkies while being blindfolded and navigating through obstacle courses and other tasks. Another team-building event was the pump and roll scenario out in front of the headquarters. 

During the pump and roll training, a line of fire was set up with burning straw. The first task is for one crew using a truck to go down the front of the fire line and spray a line of water so the fire doesn’t cross it. Another two trucks come down the line and put the flames out. The rake crew then comes behind to put out any remaining hotspots.

Arlee Fire Chief Brendeon Schoening said: “The nice thing about this training is that it’s live. We can feel the heat, see the flames and get experience with different equipment.”

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