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Collin County Fire Departments Training To Help Fight Wildfires

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) J.D. Miles
J.D. is an award-winning reporter who has been covering North T...
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McKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) – March 1 is the start of wildfire season, and firefighters this year are determined to get the upper hand after a devastating 2011.

Frisco and other departments sent several of their men and women last year to help fight the unprecedented number of wildfires that scorched the state.

But new rules took affect today now require certified wildfire training for any firefighters who are deployed this year.

McKinney Fire Captain Michael Stiltz and other suburban firefighters were sent across the state to the front line of mammoth wildfires. “We were just not prepared for it,” says Stiltz.

Shannon Brinton also noticed a difference when he took time away from his fire station in Frisco last year to help tackle the Possum Kingdom and Bastrop wildfires.

“It was certainly anything different than we do,” says Brinton.

Frisco and McKinney are among the cities selected to specially train and certify firefighters to help out if the number of wildfires this year is anywhere close to the number of them last year which scorched 3,993,716 acres and destroyed 3,017 homes.

“We’re going into environments we’re not used to dealing with,” says Stiltz, “We have to learn to put out fires without water using hand tools digging in the dirt chopping trees down that’s stuff as municipal firefighters we didn’t have a lot training in.”

The trucks and tools used to combat wildfires can test even a well trained suburban firefighter.   Both McKinney and Frisco have resources ready and expect better success this wildfire season.  “Now instead of just the Texas Forest Service now you’ve got metropolitan cities that have resources available to deploy on these fires so it will definitely be a big help,” says Brinton.

Both Frisco and McKinney continue to offer training classes and have certified more than 60 firefighters.

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