Our Northwest

Self-sufficient homeowners build their own fire gear

Wednesday, July 22, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

Wildfires continue to burn across the Northwest, prompting some rural residents to not only “Firewise” their property but to protect themselves with homemade fire trucks.
     Some of these makeshift rigs are pretty sophisticated.
     A recent Seattle Times article noted an Okanogan County retiree who uses a 1989 Dodge pickup truck loaded with a 200-gallon water tank, chain saw, pump, and other tools as a "poor man's fire truck."
     If they weren’t self-sufficient already, Okanogan residents have boosted their efforts following last summer’s devastating Carlton Complex fire that burned 251,000 acres.
     John and Carolyn Berglund of Hidden Valley, a community nine miles east of Cle Elum, dodged devastation during the 2012 Taylor Bridge fire that scorched the area. They helped to lead efforts that earned Hidden Valley an “official Washington Firewise Community” designation.
     Witnessing how fast wildfire can spread, the Berglunds decided if another blaze threatened their home, or if a small one broke out nearby, they wanted to take action to nip it in the bud. They located and assembled firefighting equipment that resembles what’s carried by a modern fire department brush truck, including a 275-gallon tank and 100 feet of hose. The Berglunds built it onto a skid that can be loaded onto a truck or trailer – virtually, a fire wagon – to be accessed and used in emergencies by them or their neighbors.
     “First we call 911,” Carolyn said. “Our goal is to control a fire before it gets out of hand. We also have a 2,300-gallon pool from which to pump water, and we let the fire department know about it.”
     Read The Seattle Times article to learn more about the Okanogan efforts.

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