1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Smile Tornados, T-Storms, and Spotting

    Tis the season for tornados, twisters, and more wonderful mother nature activities. With the upcoming storm season, do you send your firefighters off to stormspotter class? Do you storm spot? What's your SOP?

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Nothin' other than opening the bay doors, setting up a couple folding chairs, and watching for lighting strikes.

    Get a good cloud to ground one everyone tries to call where it landed and we listen to the scanner to hear the tree on wires/house hit by lighting/automatic alarm to verify our guess

    Several times seen the lighting and knew it was in our district a couple minutes before tones!

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Im a Jr.FF/Volunteer. Im a SKYWARN spotter as well. My main hobby/interest is severe weather. I think SKYWARN training is a good thing.

    I cant wait til summer time.

    Truxton vol. FD

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    There are classes offered through the county that i live in and flyers are sent out to all the depts. If someone wants to go they go. most of the time it is free and lasts only two to three hours. we have guidelines for those times, we send trucks to the watertower (the highest point in town, can see every thing from there for about 5 miles) and to other high areas in the district. We had a tornado come through our town on june first last year. went right over the station, up main street and touched down in my back yard. We didn't have any caulaties and only one bandaid was given out in the two days of cleanup that took place. The day after we had four other depts come and help with clean up. It only took two days to clean up the whole town.

    Adam J. Dorn

    These are my opinions and not of any group or org. that i belong to.

  5. #5
    J Almon
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Amateur radio operators handle most spotting in our area. They maintain a superior communications system for weather spotting and can cover thousands of square miles by linking VHF and UHF repeaters. They also have direct communications via radio (not telephone) with the local Weather Service office by placing a station in their office. Calling in sightings and damage reports directly to NOAA is much quicker via ham radio than using our fire/police dispatching center. During severe weather, normal dispatch channels are plugged with traffic and the dispatchers very busy, making the direct communications path via ham radio the most efficient method in our area of Tennessee.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our county picks up the warning and watches from NOAA, and broadcasts them over our fire & rescue frequency and requests that all agencies move to "increased readiness" in which we have personnel man our stations, and prepare for response to an weather related incident.

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I took Skywarn training a few years ago but our department does not storm spot.

    Our SOG for tornado warnings is sending 1 engine and our heavy rescue to our Township Hall code 3 to open it up for the residents of the nearby trailer park. If the tornado touches down in our area we send all rigs out for damage survey, assist victims, etc.

    I added a section on severe weather preparedness to our website, please take a look and let me know what you think: http://www.wtfd.net/weathersafety.html

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Funny thing...I just got back from a Storm Spotter Class a while ago. I am also one of several HAMS on the department. A couple of us usually show up at the station about an hour before we expect antyhing to fire up or if we get reports of severe weather coming in from other countys. Usually have no trouble covering weather calls.

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We send everyone that wants to stormspotter class, the LEPC holds it for free twice per year. We've also got a good system with the entire county so that each department has "posts" during severe weather so that there's a truck every 5 miles or so, sometimes closer than that.

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Like mentioned before..all we do is get our new more comfortable chairs open up hte bay doors..and watch the skies..And Usually a storm attracts alot of members down to the station..so if we get banged out for a run we are usually the first ones to call in service and have the most guys...It always makes you wonder what that lightning hit until those tones go off...cause you know it hit something..its just a matter of minutes until you find out what...

    South Amboy, New Jersey
    EMS Cadet in NJ

  11. #11
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    When storms are forcasted for our area usually a few of the guys {My-Self Included if I'm not Working} gather @ the station watch the weather channel and open the bay doors and watch the storm roll in --- We monitor the Police Calls on the Scanner and usually start gearing up when our police get the call for Wires Down or other storm emergency because the tones usually drop 2-3 minutes after that

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Almost all of our members have attended a storm spotting class which is put on by the NOAA at least once a year in our area. We are notified by pager anytime that there is a weather watch. If the watch is upgraded to a warning, a LEO requests, or the chief doesn't like the way the clouds look then we are dispatched for storm spotting duties.
    We don't have designated posts due to the expanse of the area that we cover. Instead the chief designates the area that he wants each truck to cover and will usually move the trucks as the storm progresses through the area to get the best assessment and triangulation of the cell. Attention is paid as to the roads the trucks are on with an emphasis on leaving escape routes accessible.
    We keep in contact with the nearest NOAA weather office by cell phone (we also use them for weather forecasts on fire calls, a big asset!) and keep them up to date as to what we are seeing.
    When we storm spot we use our grass rigs and command vehicle and try to leave a couple of guys in the hall. We do this so that we can move one of the pumpers in case a tornado does threaten the town. We also do this with the ambulances. No sense in keeping all of your eggs in one basket.
    In the past couple of years we have had a number of tornadoes and the system has worked well.

  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest


    This is the first time I've heard of classes for storm spotting.
    If hear of a storm that might be headed our way we just open the bay door turn on the weather channel and listen to the scanner. The way our district is set up we would have to go a couple of miles out of town to watch the storm from a high point. We cover an area of 35 to 40 square miles. There are lots of hills and the borough its self is surrounded by hills.

  14. #14
    Neptune 33
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Ah, the summertime "storm team" as we like to call all the guys who come down during severe weather predictions. And I concur, nothing like opening up those bay doors, getting chairs, and enjoying the storm.

  15. #15
    Firehouse.com Guest


    More power to you stormspotters. Having been through both tornados and earthquakes, I'll take an earthquake any day. However, I do miss thunderstorms. They just don't make them in California like they do in Illinois.

  16. #16
    Firehouse.com Guest


    in the last few years, my dept has taken on storm spotting, some of us have been thru the class, we have had 4 tornadoes come within 4 miles of us in the last two years, one missed town by about a quarter mile, we use our old fire siren on the pole at the station as our weather alert now,
    about a month ago, i was sitting southwest of town in my ford explorer on a muddy dirt road, the wind off a wall cloud was so hard ,it started pushing my explorer backwards in the mud, i had it in neutral at the time, that was some force.

  17. #17
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I must agree with all of you whose version of storm spotting is sitting in the station watching the storm roll in. Nothing like it. especially at night.

  18. #18
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Having been hit by a tornado once in the late
    70's I can say that some things have changed. It used to be that we would take trucks out and station them in different areas to watch for tornados. Now the S.O.P says that in case of a tornado to secure yor family first and if they are ok then proceed to the station to await further instructions. I know that there are two schools of though on this: One is if your station gets hit and all you equipment is in it then you are at a loss. The other side of the coin is where do you go and what if your area is cut in half and you cant get to the location that is hit.

  19. #19
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Once again, nothing better than opening up the bay doors, propping up against an engine and watching the storms roll in.

    That is, until you get called out in the middle of the pelting rain and fierce wind because "I saw lightning, and, well, just wanted to make sure."


  20. #20
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Yeah I would have to say that is still the best way. Just opening up the doors and standing by for the call. If notthing happens it is still good reason to see what is happen up to the house and get you out of yours! HEHEHEHEHE


  21. #21
    Dr. Law
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We really have it pretty good here. We call for and send out spotters when there are watches and the storms are near. Usually take fire trucks out with one to two per cab, and spread out about 5 miles or less all ways from town. Most of our guys have taken NOAA sponsored spotting courses. We also have a great mutual aid organization within the county.

    [This message has been edited by Dr. Law (edited 05-27-2001).]

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