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Tahoe Douglas Fire News

This Week at the Fire District



The 2017 fire season has proven to be very demanding for the Western states with up to 40 fires burning at one point last month. TDFPD participates in mutual aid agreements that provide district resources to our neighbors in the Lake Tahoe Basin and Northern Nevada. TDFPD, in turn, receives similar support for fires within our district. Under these agreements, the TDFPD provides a structure engine or brush truck with a crew of four for inital attack and short duration fire assignments. TDFPD also receives requests for fire assignments up to 14 days for engine/brush crews and individual resources like dozer bosses, incident command team members, and fire line paramedics. The Zephyr Crew is a Type 2 Initial Attack hand crew of 20 members that can hike into remote areas with the equipment needed to cut fire lines and remove fuel in advance of a fire.

This summer, TDFPD personnel have responded to 45 out-of-district fires as close as Gardnerville and as far away as Utah and Arizona.

Why does the Fire District do this? Like many other fire agencies, TDFPD typically has up to 15 firefighters on duty. Stopping a wildfire quickly is critical, so the first priority is to get as many resources lined up as possible and ready to respond if needed. Secondly, while TDFPD responds to approximately 2,000 calls per year, eighty percent (80%) of these calls are EMS related. Responding to out-of-district fire provides critical live fire experiences for our personnel, giving them an opportunity to put their training to use and develop their skills to better serve our residents at home.



Engineer and EOD Technician Nathan Johnson (center) has completed Hazardous Devices School (HDS) - Basic Course and is a fully certified bomb technician. Nationwide, only ten percent (10%) of the bomb technicians come from the fire service, and Johnson attended the six-week course with 23 law enforcement and FBI technicians. 

Johnson identified the render safe procedures as the most interesting part of the training. The HDS training grounds simulate an actual bus station, farm house, hospital, and fire department where instructors set up situations for four-person technician teams to solve. For this aspect of the training, they are not permitted to use technology like computers and robots, and must rely on each other and manual techniques to solve the problems.

He explained that his training as a firefighter/paramedic lead him to approach a potential EOD situation from the perspective of what the chemical compounds could do to a human victim or the potential exposure risk from hazardous materials if detonated. Law enforcement and FBI trainees take a completely different approach. Enforcement leans towards dealing with how to secure the area and protect others, where the suspect who placed the item is and how to stop him or her, and how to secure the evidence and investigate following an explosion. Engineer Johnson appreciated the opportunity to gain insight from his law enforcement classmates, who good-heartedly gave him handcuffs and a badge to memorialize the course.

Johnson's parents, Elaine and Don Johnson, traveled from Durand, Michigan to attend the graduation ceremony at the FBI Hazardous Devices School at Redston Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama (pictured above).



Engineer Paul Apple has the unique distinction of being the only TDFPD employee to have been raised in the fire district and to have graduated from GWHS. Currently, he is serving as an engineer, which is the position responsible for safely driving the fire engine and providing water at a fire from the engine storage tanks or fire hydrants on site. An engineer's responsibility at a fire is to keep consistent and powerful water flow to the firefighters fighting the blaze.

Apple attended LTCC Fire Academy, received "Top Academic Awards," and was selected to speak on behalf of the class at graduation. To gain experience, he volunteered with Lake Valley Fire and South Lake Tahoe Fire establishing career relationships that continue to serve him today. His first position was with Lake County Fire in Clearlake, CA, which provided his most memorable call to date when he delivered a baby in the back of an ambulance. 

He says that he acquired his "dream job" in 2012 when he was hired with TDFPD and attended his third fire academy to learn Tahoe Douglas procedures. He has served as a paramedic preceptor, SCBA technician, Peer Fitness trainer, and member of the Honor Guard. This past spring, he completed 88 hours of Truck Company Operations training, which allows him to incorporate lessons learned into TDFPD ladder truck training.

Apple has four AA degrees in Fire Science, Health, Social Science, and Liberal Arts, and he is working towards his bachelor's degree. Shown here in full dress uniform for an Honor Guard presentation, we are happy to acknowledge his five years of service to the Fire District.



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