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- General Interest
By John Stanton
The first in our series profiling Douglas County Volunteer Fire Departments, Twin Bridges VFD is the eastern-most department in the County. Established in 1984, Twin Bridges VFD’s Protection Area encompasses a bit over 60 square miles.
Area boundaries are: to the south the Douglas-Ozark County line, to the east, the Douglas-Howell County line, to the north, Highway 76, and on the west side, the North Fork of the White River, to its intersection with Indian River, then along Indian River to Highway 76. Association yearly dues are $35, due on June 1 of each year.
The Fire Association Board consists of five members, with Larry Wiley heading the board as president, Averill Carter, vice president, Judy Roland, secretary,and Mary Goolsby serves as treasurer. Angela Pringle is the fifth board member. Board meetings, open to the public, are held on the second Monday of each month at the fire station on Highway 181 North.
Charles Roland heads the department as chief and oversees 12 active firefighters. Of the 12, four also hold Emergency Medical Responders certificates.
The department maintains membership in both The Willow Springs Emergency Medical Responders Association and the South Central Ozarks Regional Emergency Responders Squad. Both organizations provide continued training for Emergency Medical Responders.
The department also holds fire training at the station on Highway 181 the third Monday of every month.
Twin Bridges VFD maintains one pumper engine, carrying 750 gallons of water and having a pump capacity of 1,000 gallons per minute; a 2,000 gallon tanker with full dump capabilities and augmented by a 2-inch, gasoline powered pump; and one brush truck carrying 275 gallons of water, augmented by a 2-inch, gasoline powered pump. The department also maintains a 1500-gallon Fol-Da-Tank for drafting purposes where a continuous water supply is necessary.
The department maintains mutual aid agreements with the neighboring departments in both Howell (Pumpkin Center VFD)and Douglas counties (E-76-EE VFD, Dora Fire Rescue and Eastern Douglas County Fire Rescue), and regularly report pertinent activity to the Missouri Department of Conservation and the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).
Emergency dispatching is done primarily through the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (417-683-1020); however, Twin Bridges VFD still maintains a “fire phone” (417-469-1212) system as well and maintains a proprietary radio system.
As of May 16 this year, Twin Bridges VFD has responded to four wildland fires, one structure fire, one motor vehicle fire, five emergency medical calls, two motor vehicle accidents, and one search and rescue.
Chief Roland stated, “Responses have been about average for us so far this year. We generally see an increase in calls during the summer months, especially along the White River, with the influx of tourists. During the summer months with the number of people that utilize the White River for canoeing, and the various camping spots along the river, our population effectively doubles, and on weekends triples. Those calls tend to be rescue or medical in nature versus fires, though.”
Chief Roland also advised that he would, “really like to see more volunteers with Emergency Medical Responders certificates, as our medical calls are increasing, and we can get overwhelmed at the scene of a wreck, (when) we have to provide medical care to every victim and direct traffic.”
“We may also be fighting a fire, extracting additional victims, or setting up a landing zone for a medical helicopter”, he said. “Sometimes there just are not enough people to handle everything that has to be done. We are lucky in that we get good mutual aid response from our neighboring departments.”
Next month we profile Goodhope Volunteer Fire Department on the opposite end of Douglas County
In addition, just a quick note on the dangers posed by the very toxic gases produced in structure fires. It has been mentioned in previous articles that “modern materials” have dramatically changed how fires burn and grow, hotter and faster.
These modern materials also produce a lengthy list of very toxic gases, prominent among them being carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and hydrogen sulfide. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide are colorless, odorless gases, which by themselves are toxic, in combination, they are lethal. Carbon monoxide must be breathed; however, hydrogen cyanide can be breathed or absorbed through the skin. A “dead right there” level for hydrogen cyanide is 250 parts per million, if breathed and 270 parts per million if absorbed through the skin. Lesser amounts can produce cardiac failure or stroke, hours or days later.
Hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs, and is almost as toxic as hydrogen cyanide. The insidious part of hydrogen sulfide is that it destroys your ability to smell it in seconds. You may only get one whiff and then it is gone, or so it would seem.
Hydrogen sulfide has very similar effects on the body as hydrogen cyanide, and in sufficient concentration can kill in minutes, or produce cardiac problems or stroke later.
All of these gases are combustible, which means while the fire is actively burning some of the gases are being consumed by combustion. However, after the fire is out, the concentrations of toxic gases can increase dramatically.
Most all deaths associated with residential structure fires are from “smoke inhalation”, which, in reality is “toxic gas inhalation.”
We cannot stress enough how incredibly dangerous it is to enter an actively burning structure or to poke around in a recently extinguished structure.