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Counties collaborate to fight fires

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 6:10 am

Photo by Chris Kues

By Cesca Waterfield, Editor
Westmoreland County and Richmond County Volunteer Fire Departments joined efforts to fight a fire last week when a home on Pine Crest Road went up in flames.
The call came in shortly before 9 a.m. on Saturday. First on the scene was Westmoreland County’s Engine 21, whose 16 firefighters arrived to heavy smoke.
“It was a pretty good-sized fire,” says WVFD Chief Eddie Weston.
Weston estimates that about 15 percent of the structure was in flames, including the right side of the roof area.
“We were trying to cut it off from reaching that left side. The burn-through part was on the right side. It had already run the roof line when we got to the front door.”
Richmond Co. Volunteer Fire Dept. Engine 3 arrived soon after bringing another 12 firefighters to assist, according to Chris Kues, Captain 3.
The home is in an area that isn’t serviced by hydrants, so the crew sent four tankers in a cycle to fill up at the station, and return to the scene.
Collaboration between area fire departments is not unusual, according to Weston and Kues.
“We as firefighters, we don’t care about who gets there first, no matter whose territory it is, we just want to help the people,” Weston says.
“We’re fortunate to be able to work together because there are a lot of departments that don’t. We don’t go that route. We go with helping people.”
Kues says, “We work hand in hand all the time. It’s not unusual.”
Training to serve with the fire department is rigorous; only one in five recruits finish the first year of training, according to Weston.
“The call volume that we have [is high] and the volunteers don’t come as easy as they used to. We have to call on mutual aid. We might have to pull a couple trucks to get enough firefighters,” says Weston.
Kues thanks the Ladies Auxiliaries of both departments for regularly providing support on the scene.
The couple was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but was not seriously hurt.
WVFD had to replace two coats due to heat damage.