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  1. #1
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    Default Helping in a prolonged power outage

    I'm on a volunteer fire dept. in a mostly rural district that is expirencing a electrical power outage of a week and a half going on two weeks. Our town has power but most of the rural area didn't, but now most have it. When the power first went out I was asked if the fire dept. could help out local farmers who don't have generators and couldn't get water to their livestock, if we would deliver the water with our tankers. Only a couple of farmers asked. (if them, why not us? right). A couple of tanker runs would do it. How many days would depend on the power outage.

    I understand having the equipment on hand if an emergency call came in. Using the equipment for non emergency "personal usage".
    All the situations with getting them stuck, frozen up, or damaged on icy/snowy roads, and insurance. Town would not charge for the water used.


    We have already set up emergency shelters, contacted and checked on those without power, very carefully shovelled snow off threatened roofs, (lost 4 hog confinement, and 2 cattle shed roofs in district), pulled out stuck vehicles.(with our personal vehicles). We have done these things more as friendly neighbors than as a fire dept., as no fire dept. vehicles were used.

    My question is; even though we are a volunteer fire dept. and they "own" the tankers, is this asking to much?


  2. #2
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    My own opinion is water for stock, yes. Water for swimming pools, no. I think there is a clear difference. This is an emergency response.

    You have the equipment and manpower to save tens of thousands of dollars in property, why wouldn't you do it?

    Mind you, a donation from the farmers would be appropriate.

    Someone will no doubt post a reply decrying my willingness to take food from the mouths of hard-working water delivery guys.

  3. #3
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    Agreed with above post.

    We protect lives AND property.

    Livestock is property.

    I am assuming the apparatus are municipally owned in one way or another, so the locals more or less paid for the trucks and are entitled (within reason) to use the trucks for protecting their property. It is not asking too much. By way of comparison, filling a pool would not be protecting it. I would not consider a water run for livestock as "personal usage" at all, it is a legitmate call.

    Pulling vehicles out of the ditch with personal vehicles was above and beyond and should earn the department's membership some friends.
    You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
    IACOJ Power Company Liason
    When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution
    and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. - Dave Barry.

  4. #4
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    The reason for the power outage is a winter ice storm and 18 inches of blowing snow,so swimming pools is not a factor. Neither is the water delivery guys as we are the only water delivery guys.

    Equipment yes, manpower every day is a different story if this stays a prolonged outage.

  5. #5
    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Default

    What does your local emergency plan say about dealing with livestock?

    (Hint: If it says nothing, make a note to fix that before this happens again... )
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPIRITofJB View Post
    swimming pools is not a factor.
    Yeah we kind of figured that. We used that as an comparison example because it is among the most hotly debated questionable uses of apparatus.
    You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
    IACOJ Power Company Liason
    When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution
    and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. - Dave Barry.

  7. #7
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    I think this is perfectly appropriate. To a farmer, their livestock is worth more to their livelihood than their house. We've never had power outage that long here, nor do we have farms. But if we did, I don't doubt we'd do it in a heartbeat.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  8. #8
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    Let me check with PETA....

  9. #9
    Forum Member len1582's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    I agree 100% with the rest. Saving a farmers livestock is saving his business. His familys income. But you know that more than me. Yours is a very different area than mine, and my hats off to you bro. Good luck!

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber LVFD301's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    Let me check with PETA....
    Very good...


    PETA will probably say let the cows die, because the big old fire trucks scare them if they are near the pond.


    (We fill cow ponds in drought situations, and normally recieve donations - but never make it a requirement. We fill pools in summer, and require donations.)

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post


    PETA will probably say let the cows die, because the big old fire trucks scare them if they are near the pond.

    No, PETA would say release the poor, enslaved cows back into their natural environment so they can live a free, happy bovine lifestyle as nature intended....








    ....where they'd all die....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  12. #12
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    We did just what you're talking about during our recent ice storm. Filled water tanks, etc. We also did well-being checks and delivered self-heating meals and water to residents while we were at it.

  13. #13
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    I would at least ask for a rib-eye We have a large dairy in our district that produces milk for swiss valley, they had a power outage over the summer when it was it was 95+. They called us and asked if we could bring out a few tankers to help them out until they could get the power back on. We did and after a day or so they got the power back on. Now mind you this is a company not just a local farmer but local guys working there. The next week we had quite a donation and a dry hydrant bought, paid for and maintained by there guys.

  14. #14
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    I think the idea that fire departments routinely fill swimming pools comes from school visits where the pumping capacity is proudly described as "We can fill an 8,000 gallon swimming pool in just under 7 minutes."which means when the kiddies get let out to go home,they tell Mommy and Daddy that the fire department can fill the swimming pool this year.
    When I'd be hanging around the station back in Reidland Ky and would field those calls,I'd tell them,"We don't.That's probably a city FD job."and give them the first number listed for Paducah FD.
    As to power generation,I've only "herd"that it would have to be for a vital city or town function that a FD unit could do that.Residentials would be on their own.
    Besides,our generators only put out 4 or 5 Kw IIRC and cannot easily be connected to a power grid.Those rigs aren't the old USS Lexington.
    Last edited by doughesson; 03-06-2007 at 02:02 PM.

  15. #15
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    Actually, there are fire departments out there that fill pools (including mine). Most people out in the rural area don't have wells that can fill a pool up without burning up the unit. So, we charge so much per load, run a truck out real quick, drop a couple loads (write it up as "driver training") and collect some cash.

    Mind you, I'm not talking about a huge in-ground pool, but an above ground with only a few thousand gallons.

  16. #16
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    Also NEIowa (obviously). We wouldn't even dither over delivering water for critters. Would ask for fuel reimbursement though.

    Option B (probably a better option) is take a generator out to hook up their well.

    Not called to do so as power in our area was mostly back on within 36hr (many/most of the farmers had PTO powered generators) but we debated how we were/are going to handle req for help with generator/electric. We have 2 trucks (wildland and pumper) with on board generators. Also a trailer mounted 10kw diesel, trailer with 2x 5kw diesels, trailer mounted 200kw diesel and a 8kw gas portable. Pumper would not leave the station. I had trailer units ready for state mutual aide dispatch which never came.

    Neighbors/taxpayers sitting in the dark with no heat, freezers/ref thawing an FD has generators sitting idle. Not good neighbor situation.

    Our thought/discussion. Do we only hook to drop cords (would not help with furnaces). Would have to have electrician rewire furnaces to install a plug connection vs hardwired. Do we leave a generator with a rural homeowner or farmer to operate (will he maintain/operate safely and properly)? Leave an operator (not really an option)? Set up a circuit rider with a FF go from farm to farm on a 1hr schedule to run essential electric (call it the 3rd world electric program)?

    Rural power was restored before became critical issue but should have an SOP. Anyone have something written that you have used?

  17. #17
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    We have not had a major, community wide, prolonged outage in many years (decades?).

    When there was still active poultry farming in the area, and individual farms lost power during summer thunderstomrs FD generators would run the ventilation fans -- since the chickens would die from heat within a couple hours. Over time, the farms bought their own generators so they wouldn't be at the mercy of who called first.

    We've also during sustained, warm weather outages (hurricanes) run generators that shuttled a couple hours at a time per home specifically to run freezers lest the stored food spoil.

    Winter time is a bit tough, since unlike freezers you can't just run a generator to run a furnace for a couple hours and have it be good for another day or two before you need some power. That unfortunately becomes an issue of having to move to the people to shelter if they don't have family to assist them. I wouldn't be surprised to help people in a situation like that of at least draining the pipes in anticipation of the house being without heat for days in the wake of an event like an ice storm.

    We've also provided bring-your-own-container drinking water from our well running off generator during long outages, too.

    And our station itself serves as a shelter for members & their families. The town's school just installed a very large (100kw?) generator for it's role as the general purpose shelter in town.

    In the case specifically in this post, I'd have no problem using FD apparatus for property conservation in a natural disaster. Keep the animals alive. Like neiowa said, ask for reimbursement of the fuel at least, and keep at least one truck in service at the station that's ready to respond to fires or other calls without being tied up on other public service missions.

  18. #18
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Can't you just let them melt the snow and ice and drink that? And running a freezer to keep the food cold? If there is snow and ice outside, put the food outside to keep it frozen?

    Don't drink the yellow snow.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  19. #19
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    Default how did it end up

    we are just north of you guys we watched with concern how you were doing , sent our r.e.c guys down to help , we struggled with the same thoughts, we would supply water , now weather the city fathers would shut us down i'm not sure , when we had a city wide outage in late fall the farmers were more thank happy to bring there generators to town , since, we have lined up generators for the firestation/cityhall/auditorium also the well and the ambulance station , but has it been a struggle to get them hooked up saved about 50,000 through the dnr excess deal , but if its not a shiny loader , its a slow process , in the process the mayor made the coment that "who were we trying to protect" , i said the city but after i thought about it if we could wouldn't we help anyone that needed it? be fun to here if the people you helped rember you such as the dairy putting in a hydrant ?, is the power all back on?

  20. #20
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    Yes most everyone has power back on. the REC crews are working 14-16 hours days to achieve this. MY HATS OFF TO THEM!!! They think it will be 3-5 years for everthing to be back as it was.

    We decided that our local mills (farmers co-ops) with large bulk water tanks would better serve the livestock water situation.The farmers requesting the water failed to tell us the roads and their lane weren't plowed out yet,so the water had to be delivered with a end-loader and tractor.

    What concerned us was some thought that they could hook up to the dry hydrants and pump their own water. Then they found out the dry hydrants don't have pumps, so they want to use the fire depts. portable pumps.
    Which meant pumps on opposite ends of our districts with the farmers running them. Manpower during this storm was an issue with everyone helping neighbors recover. A specific fire/ems call would have been different.
    We felt including the mills was our best bet.

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