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County firefighters converge on Poplar Springs boat ramp.

Six departments get together at Poplar Springs to practice, learn equipment. The Connection: June 28, 2023

Nate Tosado:

Firefighters from across Loudoun County converged Saturday on Tellico Village’s Poplar Springs boat ramp for a morning of specialized training.

Members of Tellico Village Volunteer Fire Department and county departments, along with the Loudon County Emergency Management Agency, trained alongside one another to learn how to utilize boats and the abundance of water from the Little Tennessee River to fight fires.

“We have a mutual aid agreement with all the departments in the county that we signed in 2018 and this is our first time with all the departments participating today- All 6 departments, the two paid departments and the four volunteer departments, “ Jerry Dougherty, Village fire chief said. “This is a major water flowing event, because when we go into the county, tanker shuttle operations and possibly lake operations will be required. And we’re learning a lot from it and we know what the capabilities of our equipment are.”

Four main training stations were set up for firefighters in attendance, providing hands-on experience with engines, tankers, and hoses from different departments .

“Everyone got the opportunity while rotating in teams to look at work operating on each others pieces of equipment,” Dougherty said. “Tellico Village is operating off Loudon County Fire Rescue, Greenback is operating off Tellico Village equipment, so everybody’s learning how their equipment works. In the case of a fire and something happens, we can operate that equipment.”

One of the main focuses of the event was to learn how to pump water from a natural source in a timely manner. In a real world situation, having access to a natural lake, pond or river is a good alternative to relying on hydrants and municipal reserve water.

Pumping large amounts of water from a natural source is no easy task. The delicate process requires knowledge of pressure and precise calculations for the perfect beam of water to flow.

Loudon County Commission Chairman Henry Cullen, who represents Tellico Village, in District 7, helped set up the joint training day.

“Coming together for a training day like this is very important,” Cullen said. “Mutual aid is one of the things that makes this country great. Every fire department is willing to pitch in and help one another, and that is a big plus.”

Training also allowed departments to utilize equipment typically used only during a major fire.

TVVFD‘s newest engine has the capability of spilling 1700 gallons of water per minute. The training event allowed members to showcase the equipment to its fullest potential.

Don Lee, north, Lenoir City Fire Department’s training officer, knows the importance of specialized training. Lee brings more than 20 years of volunteer experience and has worked with the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy.

“We’re bringing the volunteers together to flow massive amounts of water,” Lee said.

“We’re showing the career fire departments and the volunteers how to move water effectively, using our equipment.”

“In the fire service we never stop training.” he added. “And with somebody being able to look at someone in the face that you know from a neighboring department and say, “Yep, I know if I tell him I need this piece of equipment he’s gonna know because he’s been at my training and I know who he is,” works really well for the camaraderie of working together.”

Lee said the training gets volunteers used to common terminologies and the equipment each department brings to the table, which can make a big difference in a major emergency.

Dougherty said support among the departments has been fantastic and firefighters have come to enjoy such joint training events.

The next countrywide drill scheduled for August will focus on relay operations, while the November session will build on previous training.

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