From the Chief

West Douglas Fire Department Chief Terry Thompson is a life-long resident of Sedalia. Chief Thompson can be reached via our contact page.

Chief Thompson writes an article in each publication of our community newsletter, The Sedalia View. Many of these articles are posted below.

Sedalia Fire Department Adds New Foam Trailer

West Douglas County Fire Protection District has a new weapon in its arsenal to protect area residents. It took delivery of a 500-gallon Alcohol Resistant-Aqueous Film Forming Foam (ARAFFF) trailer to fight fires at tire recycling facilities, highway accidents or railway spills. This trailer was purchased with a grant from Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) Waste tire fund.

Now the area is protected with two types of foam apparatus. Fire Chief Terry Thompson explained that type A foam is used against fires that produce ash, like home fires, forest fires, or paper fires. The new trailer uses type B foam, used for fires involving flammable and combustible liquids. It must be connected to a local water supply.

Pre-connected 200-foot hoses have detachable foam tubes. The 500 gallon-per-minute foam monitor can be removed from the trailer and used up to 1,000 feet away. The trailer has a transfer pump to on-load and off-load the foam concentrate, and suction hoses for clean-up. The trailer is the newest tool in the department’s expanding fleet of protection vehicles.

Help us help you!
Call 911 if you have an emergency; do not try and put the fire out yourself. All fire departments highly recommend getting out of the house quickly. In today’s plastic world the gasses and toxins can overcome you faster than the flames or heat. Call 911 if you have an emergency. We can always go back to the station if we are not needed.

How about some outdoor fall house cleaning?

Get those branches off your roof, remove your ladder fuels, clean your gutters, move the firewood away from your house. Do you have branches overhanging your power lines? Contact IREA. Check those cords that you haven’t used since last year to plug in your truck, light up your driveway, etc.; the squirrels and mice love them. Make sure we can see and read your address from the road. Black numbers on a dark post is not a good combination; try using light reflective numbers.

Insurance companies are coming after the zip code 80135. Lots of WDCFPD property owners are being cancelled because of losses in other parts of the U.S. and Colorado. If the insurance company shows up, they will look at the negatives of your property, but with some work, we can show them the positives.

Help WDCFPD Help You

We can’t help you if we can’t find you! Is your home a mystery to find?

One of the most forgotten aspects of the home is often the address numbers. The city and county post road signs so we can find the correct street, but if you have not put your house number in a visible location, we can’t find your house. This becomes a problem for emergency responders to find the correct address when responding to an emergency at your or your neighbors’ home.

Every home should have the correct house numbers posted in a highly visible location and be large enough to be read by emergency vehicles from the street. The best way to accomplish this is by having a “reflective” sign at the end of your drive or posted on the mailbox, which gives the house number.

All too often house numbers are posted on the front door under a porch where they are barely visible or not even posted at all. Many times in our rural settings there may be several mailboxes on Hwy 67 listing all the homes on the dirt road off the highway. If each home is not labeled individually, this eats up valuable time in an emergency searching for the address instead of providing the prompt emergency services needed to the family that called 911.

Even if you live on a major road such as Hwy 85, Hwy 67, Cherokee or Aztec, please post a reflective address sign.

Propane, LP Tanks and Wildfires

Wildfires and out-of-control grass fires make the news almost daily in differing parts of the US. The fires are fueled by dry weather conditions, drought and other environmental factors that threaten homes and businesses in their path. The bulk of these wildfires occur in rural areas where continuous acres of natural vegetation outnumber acres of developed land. Propane is the fuel of choice in rural areas and preparation for a potential wildfire involves routine but simple care to protect your LPG tank and your home.

Propane Tanks and Fire Protection
The best way to prepare for a wildfire is in advance before a fire is headed your way. It’s important to be aware of fire weather watches and warnings. Ask yourself if your propane tank could potentially be affected. Keeping the area surrounding a propane tank clear of debris and anything flammable goes a long way in wildfire protection. Ensuring that the tank is up off the ground and properly installed on blocks helps prevent direct flame impingement upon the propane tank itself. A good rule of thumb is to keep a 10’ radius around propane tanks, clear of anything that may be used as fuel for a fire.

  • Cut the grass/weeds close to the ground around the tank to expose bare ground
  • Use weed/grass killer around the tank after cutting vegetation to the surface
  • Spread base material or gravel around the tank to prevent vegetation growth
  • Ensure the propane tank color is reflective and free of rust to avoid pressure buildup

Ensure that all propane tank distance requirements are satisfied.
Propane cylinders should be stored in a manner similar to that of your large tank. They should sit on a level, fireproof surface with the area clear of all debris, tall grass or other combustible material. Make sure minimum cylinder distance requirements are met.

Propane Tanks, Fire Weather and Fire Danger

During periods of drought and/or low humidity, chances for wildfires increase. It’s during these times that all residents subject to fire danger should stay alert to conditions that may impact them and their homes. Turning to television and radio stations to stay informed will keep you aware of any approaching fire threat, if you have been ordered to evacuate, or are in the path of a fire. These propane specific steps should only be taken if time allows. Always follow fire evacuation orders as given by authorities and safety personnel.

  • Close the propane tank service valve by turning the hand wheel CLOCKWISE
  • Close all appliance valves and gas valves inside the house or structure

Do not move propane cylinders into the garage. If propane valves are left open, escaping LP Gas may cause increased damage to property. Safety relief valves that open during a fire may intensify damage, which is one reason why tanks must meet the LP Gas container distance requirements.
Protecting your propane tanks and cylinders will help fire fighters protect your property in the event of a wildfire. They will appreciate your attention to this important step.

Terry Thompson
Fire Chief

Fire Extinguishers Equal Home Safety

By Terry Thompson – WDCFPD Chief

Fire extinguishers are a common item found in businesses across America, but how common are they in the home? Not as common as you would think. In addition to working smoke detectors, every family should have UL listed fire extinguishers strategically placed throughout their homes. While there is no requirement for where these extinguishers are placed, the West Douglas Fire Department recommends placing one extinguisher on each floor of your home and two on the main floor.

Where should they be?
All too often homeowners place one fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink and forget about it. This can prove to be detrimental since the number one place that fires start is in the kitchen. By placing one extinguisher in the kitchen, one in the hall closet or other central location and one on each floor, you are giving yourself a better chance of finding an available extinguisher in the event of an emergency. An extinguisher can be the difference between a small inconvenience and a life-changing event.

What kind?
Now that you know where to place your fire extinguishers in
the home, what kind should you buy? The National Fire Protection
Association divides fire extinguishers into 5 separate
categories or classes.

  • Class “A” extinguishers put out fires in ordinary combustible materials such as cloth, wood, rubber, paper and many plastics.
  • Class “B” extinguishers are used on fires involving flammable liquids such as grease, gasoline, oil and oil-based paints.
  • Class “C” extinguishers are suitable for use on fires involving appliances, tools or other equipment that is electrically energized or plugged in.
  • Class “D” extinguishers are designed for use on flammable metals and are often specific for the type of metal in question.
  • Class ”K” extinguishers are intended for use on fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils or fats in cooking appliances. These class “K” extinguishers are generally found in commercial kitchens but they are finding their way into residential kitchens.

As discussed earlier, the number one location for fires in the home is in the kitchen, usually due to untended cooking. However, with the large amount of class “A” and class “C” materials found in today’s homes, “ABC” fire extinguishers are recommended.

Know how it works Once you have selected the appropriate type of fire extinguisher for your home, it is important to plan ahead, read the instruction manual and know your extinguisher’s capabilities before trying to fight a fire. Portable extinguishers are useful for putting out small fires, but understand your limits and the limits of the extinguisher.

How to use it
If a fire breaks out, your first step is to get everyone out of the house and call 911. If the fire is not spreading and is confined to a small area, use the appropriate type of extinguisher for the fire. When using a portable extinguisher, keep your back to an unobstructed exit that is free from fire and never turn your back to the fire. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for operating guidelines, including proper distance between the extinguisher and the fire. Always aim at the base of the fire and sweep side to side with a slow and steady pace. Periodically inspect your extinguishers to determine if they need to be recharged or replaced. Extinguishers need to be recharged or replaced after each use. Shaking the fire extinguisher periodically will insure the agent is ready to be used and not caked up preventing the fire extinguisher from operating properly.