About 50 volunteer firefighters from different departments participated Monday night in water supply training, using Sinking Creek near Ripley Island Road as water source.

The exercise was coordinated by the Tusuclum Volunteer Fire Department.

On scene were 12 tankers representing seven volunteer fire departments, Tusuclum Fire Chief Marty Shelton said.

“About 50 people moved thousands of gallons of water during the two-hour drill,” Shelton said.

Fire departments represented at the training exercise included Tusculum, Mosheim, Sunnyside, United, Limestone, Nolichuckey, and the Town of Mosheim.

Shelton said filling the tanker trucks using dual 3-inch lines or a single 3-inch line was timed to see how long it took to fill each department’s tanker.

He said that as an example, a 2,000-gallon tanker was filled in 2 minutes, 15 seconds.

“A 1,000-gallon-per-minute fill rate was the goal we tried to achieve,” Shelton said. “The tankers then traveled to nearby locations to dump their water tank to simulate dumping into a portable holding tank, known as a dump tank, at a scene.”

The drill allowed participating fire departments “to know exactly how long it took to unload the water (and) return for more water,” Shelton said.

“Every drop would not be removed when dumping, as it would be slower to wait until (a tanker truck) was completely empty,” he said.

Shelton said the tanker trucks were drained of between 90 to 95 percent of the water each contained before returning to the creek for another load.

He said that most tanker trucks with a 1,500- to 2,000-gallon capacity take between one minute to 90 seconds to be emptied and then return for more water.

Many of the fire districts in Greene County have few or no fire hydrants, posing challenges for firefighters looking for water sources.

“To set up a fill site from a creek or pond not only may be closer to a fire scene, it also relieves straining a municipal water system when using large volumes of water from a hydrant,” Shelton said.

“Some hydrants may be weak in volume and make filling tankers a slow process. With a good water supply, from a creek or pond, a dedicated fire engine becomes a strong hydrant every time and makes fill-up times short,” he said.

Shelton said the training exercise was well attended.

“Equipment was shared among members to try different configurations to fill their trucks. This type of training will be beneficial when a real emergency occurs where everyone is more familiar with each other’s ability,” he said.

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