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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – On a normal day, Arlington Fire Department’s brush trucks, agile fire trucks used to fight brush fires based on a dually truck frame, would be parked at a fire station and not manned.
But Monday was not a normal day. It was the kind of blustery, dry day that puts firefighters on edge. The conditions can quickly transform a small grass fire into a conflagration covering dozens or even hundreds of acres.
Monday, Arlington had its specially trained brush fire crews ready to go at a moments notice. Normally for a grass fire they would send one engine and one brush truck. Not today.
“If somebody in Arlington was to call 911 and report a brushfire, they would get a brush truck and an engine. We’ve actually upped that today,” said Battallion Chief Brian Cudaback. “They’re going to get an engine and three brush trucks…and they’re also going to get a supervisor.”
The critical factor in fighting brush fires in Red Flag Warning conditions is speed and containing the fire quickly.
“Days like today, just a little bit of grass — three or four feet tall — the wind will pick those embers up and it will blow over half a mile or a quarter of a mile so it can get away from you,” said Lt. Todd Gittings. “They jump over you, what we call spot fires. So as you’re here putting this one out you look up behind you and its already jumped over behind you.”
Arlington, and other north Texas cities, formed a highly trained brush fire crew to be part of a state-wide fire fighting corps following experiences with massive fires at Bastrop and Possum Kingdom a Lake. After years of training, the crews are capable of fighting the biggest of brush fires anywhere in Texas. But on this Red Flag day they’re protecting home turf.
“Any day that it’s a red flag day, we go ahead and put these in service,” Gittings said looking at his brush truck.
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