Rio Hondo Fire Dept. Evaluating High-Rise Fire Capabilities
RIO HONDO – A fire in Rio Hondo required quick action, along with specialized training and gear from the fire department.
The fire broke out Monday morning at the base of a windmill. Rio Hondo Fire Chief William Bilokury said, for years, the town hasn’t dealt with fires in tall structures until this week.
Bilokury said his crew was able to handle the fire but admitted they lack training and equipment for high-rise fires.
The windmills sit hundreds of feet tall with energy generated inside. With more and more windmill farms popping up in the town, he said the department needs to know how to handle fires at these locations.
“There's coolants that are in there, that depending on their nature and the plastics everything else, if it burns it releases a lot of toxic fumes,” he explained. “That's extremely hazardous to the firefighters and any other first responders.”
Rio Hondo firefighters were instructed to let the windmill burn if unsalvageable in the future.
The fire department is now working with windmill service sites to create a first responder training.
“I’m going to reach out to the manufacturer and to the companies that put these out here [and say] 'Hey we need help. You have hundreds of them in my ESD (Emergency Service District) alone and we're going to have to be prepared to respond to them," said Bilokury.
The department will also be looking to other areas with established wind turbines to learn from their response protocol and continue using mutual aid for assistance.
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