Williston Fire Department warns public about brush fires - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Williston Fire Department warns public about brush fires

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This time of year-- April and May-- is when 75 percent of Vermont's wildfires occur.

Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton knows a thing or two about putting out fires.

"It's not just a job, but a passion," said Morton.

He's been the Williston fire chief for 22 years and knows fire danger can be pretty high this time of year.

"All of that dry grass from last season, if a fire does start, and it's a windy dry day, the fire will move quickly," said Morton.

This means if you want to burn, it's important to follow the law and call your local fire warden for a burning permit. Keep a water source handy. Watch it. And don't burn after dark.

The Williston Fire Department also improves safety in another way.

"We're a little unique in that we visit every site that wants to do a burn before we issue the permit," said Morton.

This tactic has gotten results. Morton tells us that the brush fires in Williston have gone from about 50-80 per year to just a few.

Still they do happen. When the fire alarm sounds in Williston their first line of defense is to send out a full-sized fire truck.

"It goes as a multiple attack unit to be able to do structural or initiate an attack on a field or woods fire," said Morton.

It's equipped with a variety of hoses to fight all sorts of fires. If they can't reach they use special off-road equipment.

"We have a four-wheel drive pickup truck that can go off of the roadway, and the truck carries a small tank with water, a pump to pump that water, it has some additional forestry hose," said Morton.

That truck also has a backpack water pump and other tools like shovels for digging.

If the fire progresses deep into the woods, the Williston Fire Department may utilize their utility vehicle.

"What we would do is transfer supplies from the engine or the pickup truck into the back of this vehicle,w" said Morton.

At this point the state would likely be called in for backup.

"Last year we had about 125 fires reported to us," said Dan Dillner from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

Dillner says the state has quite a few resources to back up our local fire departments.

"We have four fire trailers that are there for extended attack of a large wild land fire," said Dillner.

Each trailer contains about 3,000 feet of forestry hose, a chain saw kit, fire tools, fire rakes, shovels and water pumps. Tools like these are helpful for fires that burn deep in the woods and into the ground.

"We had one on Mount Mansfield a couple of years ago that a lot of people were there. It took a big effort to dig the fire out," said Dillner.

But most of the time our local fire departments can keep the flames under control thanks in part to people like Morton.

"It's a rewarding job to have," said Morton.

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