Future of Water - Winter 2011 - (Page 10)
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By Dale Ohnmeiss RWAA EPA Sourcewater Specialist W hat come s t o you r m i nd when you hea r t he word s “C er t i f ie d O p erat or”? Mo s t of u s wou ld v i s u a l i z e a professional who insures our water is safe to drink or that the wastewater is being processed properly to insure the protection of the environment and community health. What would you say if I told you a Certified Operator has a bigger impact on his or her community than most of us realize? If I said “Fire!” what would you visualize now? Did any of you see a firefighter? I did, but did any of you visualize a firefighter and a Certified Operator working in partnership to fight fires? Most of us probably would not. Several months ago the Rural Water Association of Arizona Source Water Protection program was asked to assist with coordinating a community activity relating to helping plan and document the partnerships that exist between the water utilities and firefighters. There was a new Fire Academy Class starting up with new cadets ready to learn. RWAA was there from day one. The cadets were focused on their workouts and fire fighting techniques. They were learning how to connect hose to hydrant and how to walk with water in a high pressure hose. They also began to understand that without water the firefighters would lose the battle. This is where the Certified Operator partnerships come in. The Certified Operator insures continuous pressure and capacity while the firefighter attacks the fire. There are examples within Arizona of Operators actively participating in helping the firefighting community with water availability during emergencies, and there are numerous examples of Certified Operators putting themselves in harm’s way to help insure the firefighters had pressure and ample supply of water even when they have been asked to evacuate along with their neighbors during major forest fires. The Operators who stayed to help insure the water kept flowing for the firefighters were the unseen heroes of their communities. Operators continue to serve their communities not only to insure all federal and state safe drinking water rules are complied with, but also serve their communities as hidden heroes working in partnership with fire protection.
Building partnerships and getting a better understanding of everyone’s priorities and primary mission help build a stronger utility and also help build up community support during times of emergencies.
How well do you know your utility? Can you and your staff rise to the occasion during an emergency as a first responder? Do you know more than just classroom study material? Do you have hands-on training experience? Imagine … what if someone in your utility office yells, “Fire in the yard! … Help!”? What is your next move? Are you ready? The Rural Water Association of Arizona Source Water Protection program was provided close access to all Fire Academy trainings and live fire exercises. The photos that accompany this article were taken over a span of four months and are part of a 2,000 photograph essay that documented the training. Safety protocols were followed, but I was allowed closer access than most non-firefighting persons would be allowed. Sometimes I was so close to the action I could feel the heat of the flames and hear the swirling inhale and exhale breathing sounds a fire makes when its about to do something major. Building partnerships and getting a better understanding of everyone’s priorities and primary mission help build a stronger utility and also help build up community support during times of emergencies. The RWAA Source Water Protection program can help you start the process. During the live fire exercises with the Fire Academy, participants learned how to use ABC dry chemical extinguishers against a broken and ignited gas valve in a utility yard. How many of us have seen the gas valves and have wondered what it would look like if someone had accidentally backed up and cracked the pipes with a utility truck? Take a look at some of the photos and see the effects. Participants also learned how to handle pit fires, fires at utility structures, and ground fires both with dry chemicals as well as with water. During the exercise, the participants learned that fire can be sucked back into the water stream and create a wall of heat that can snap back and get the person fighting the fire. Participants also learned how to fight storage container fires, confined space fires, and utility parking lot fires and structural fires and vehicle extractions using the jaws of life, saws and other equipment.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Future of Water - Winter 2011
Future of Water - WInter 2011
From the Board President
From the Executive Director
Board of Directors
Water, Not Just for Drinking … Water Operator’s Partnership with Community Fire Protection
Associate Membership Application
System & Individual Membership Application
Quarterly Industry Update
Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Policy
Tales of an Arizona Circuit Rider
Tracking and Evaluating Energy Usage and Costs at a Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Big Picture
Great Progress in the Town of Miami
20th Annual Technical Conference
Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Future of Water - Winter 2011