County looks to lower fire rating after training exercise

Sturgis Fire Department Chief Greg Wall helps direct volunteer firefighters as they drop water into the dump tanks during the exercise last week. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

The Oktibbeha County Volunteer Fire Department participated in an on-site exercise to potentially lower the fire rating in the Sturgis area.

The exercise was for the department to transfer 40,000 gallons of water to a particular dump site in under one hour. The goal was to expel 600 gallons per minute.

The departments involved were Sturgis, Central Oktibbeha, Ackerman, Adaton and District Five.

The current fire rating in the district is a nine, and through this exercise, VFD Training Officer Austin Check hopes to bring the rating down to a seven.

“I promise you, what you do here affects somebody’s life everyday,” Check said before the exercise.

He said lowering the rating could be the difference in homeowners being able to pay their insurance, or have more money to spend out in the community or on their families.

For the county, Check said there are not fire hydrants located throughout the area, like the city. He said firefighters in the county must transfer water with its tankers, and set up dump tanks to provide a water source at the scene.

“We move the water to the scene,” Check said. “You can’t just tell folks you can do this, you have to prove it.”

During the exercise, fire engines traveled on Sturgis West Point Road and set up at the intersection on Pleasant Ridge Road.

Firefighters transferred water into the dump tanks, where the water was then pumped out at 600 gallons per minute. To show perspective on the 600 gallons per minute, a normal hand line firefighters use pumps out 95 to 100 gallons per minute.

“We’re just trying to prove how much we can do to force those ratings down,” Check said.

After the exercise completed, Check said it went better than expected. The department had an hour to move 40,000 gallons and it finished in under 50 minutes.

“Everybody came together and hit their marks,” Check said. “Every little problem that popped up, we overcame, we persevered and we got the job done.”

Check said the official grade will not be available for a couple of weeks, as members of the fire rating bureau need to complete its scoring and paperwork.