With the Brooklyn residents concerned over their on-going isolation as a result of the closing of the Main Street Bridge, the New Martinsville Fire Department has reached out to those residents to assure them that the fire department is aware and prepared to serve them regardless of their isolation. To help alleviate residents concerns, firefighters from New Martinsville and Paden City conducted an exercise to quickly extinguish a fire at the South Sewage Plant on June 18.
There wasn't an actual fire in the plant, but instead a fire in the West Virginia University Live Fire Simulation Trailer. This event provided firefighters from both agencies an opportunity to work together in their efforts to extinguish a simulated structural fire in an area that was simulated to not have hydrants available, requiring fire fighters to establish a "tanker shuttle" operation coordinating with CSX and be able to show that they could maintain a constant volume of water capable of controlling and extinguishing a structural fire and maintain access to them during the simulation.
"Through the exercise, we were able to find our strengths and weaknesses in rural water movement as well as looking at different ways in which to establish a rural firefighting operation," said NMVFD Fire Chief Larry Couch.
A side advantage to this exercise was being able to show that firefighters were able to think outside of the box and understand that there may be a need for this style operation even in a setting where hydrants exist and where there might be a true isolation of the west side of Brooklyn from the railroad to South Main Street.
The fire department has pre-deployed a four-inch water supply hose across the Main Street Bridge in the event there is a fire in the section and there would be a need for a supplemental water supply line or firefighting water supply in this area.
"Our big concern would be if there were to be a train derailment or crash in Brooklyn that would result in CSX not being able to clear the two crossings in this area and residents needing to evacuate via the closed bridge by foot," said Couch. "We have keys to the gates on the bridge, an ATV that could help in an evacuation, a boat on which we could ferry residents by way of the river or creek. But none of those is a good substitute for a functional bridge."
South Main Street resident Earl Smith has been diligent in keeping the fire department informed and has helped to serve as a liaison between the Brooklyn area residents and the fire department. Couch said that Smith has been on top of this situation from the beginning keeping them informed as well as keeping local officials focused on getting the bridge repaired.