Multiple departments battle fire at FM 455 and 51


Firefighters from departments across Wise, Denton and Montague counties battled a large grass fire near the intersection of Farm Roads 51 and 455 Thursday afternoon in Slidell.
The blaze, which burned nearly 400 acres, was sparked from a mower blade striking a rock, according to Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard.
“That’s just how dry it was,” Beard said.
Summer-like temperatures in the low 90s, humidity levels in the teens and southern gusts up to 23 mph fueled the fire that was reported shortly before noon.
“It was a recipe for disaster,” Beard said.
Greenwood-Slidell Fire Chief Adam North said the blaze originated off of FM 51 and spread. Both FM 455 and 51 were closed as firefighters worked the fire.
Fire lines were set by members of the U.S. Forest Service along the two roads to try to contain it south of 455 and east of 51. It briefly jumped 455 and burned an additional 400 yards before being extinguished.
Slidell schools were evacuated as a precaution.
“We had just started our last lunch and made the decision to get kids off campus,” said Slidell ISD Superintendent Greg Enis. “We loaded five school buses and headed toward Sanger.”
The elementary and middle school students were taken to a park, and the high school students to eat in Sanger. After getting word from North that the fire was contained, students were brought back to campus shortly after 3 p.m. Bus routes in the district ran as normal.
“They still had 455 and 51 blocked off and we had to make some adjustments and use some county roads to get everyone home,” Enis said.
Two tank trucks from Quasar Energy Services out of Gainesville supplied water at the scene to fire tankers.
“Our owner drove by and said ‘It looks like they needed help,’” said Ryan Sicking. “We brought them a little water.”
Among the fire departments at the scene were Greenwood-Slidell, Decatur, Alvord, East Wise, Forestburg, Krum, Sanger, Lake Cities, Coppell and U.S. Forest Service. Wise County medics and the Department of Public Safety also assisted. Troopers led traffic down FM 51.


No structures or vehicles were damaged in the fire.
“[Firefighters] did a great job using natural barriers to contain it,” Beard said.
He added that it will be monitored throughout the evening.

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Greenwood-Slidell Volunteer Fire Department nets major grant

Greenwood-Slidell Volunteer Fire Department nets major grant


Factory Options

FACTORY OPTIONS – Greenwood-Slidell Fire Chief Adam North shows off Tanker 220’s hydraulic drop tank lift. The device allows a single crew member to provide water to several trucks on a scene. The department bought the truck through a Texas A&M Forest Service grant. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Seconds count in firefighting – whether the department is paid or volunteer. Hesitating means losing ground to a blaze that may threaten property or lives.

The Greenwood-Slidell Volunteer Fire Department recently purchased a new truck with the aid of a $200,000 Texas A&M Forest Service grant, which will help them maximize manpower and make the most of every second while battling a blaze.

“We’re a rural department,” said Fire Chief Adam North, “but our job is no different than a department in Dallas because fire doesn’t know if you’re volunteer or paid. It still hurts.”

The new vehicle, a 2016 Pierce FXP dubbed “Tanker 220,” represents the top of the line in firefighting technology. The truck debuted at the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference earlier this year before it was put in service.

“It went from a factory to there and then to here,” he said.

North said the truck features a hydraulic drop tank lift so fire engines and other vehicles can siphon water out of a 3,000-gallon tank to battle blazes at a distance. The truck also has its own 500-gallon-per-minute pump and can act as a fire engine should one of the department’s trucks be damaged or have a mechanical problem.

These types of things make a big difference for smaller departments with limited funds and manpower, he said.

“Things like the [hydraulic] lift are good because we may not always have people show up to help position that,” he said. “It’ll help buy time for when we need mutual aid like Alvord, Decatur, Krum, Sanger or Forestburg. It’ll help further that time we’re on scene first. We’ll put it to use.”

For emergencies after dark, North said the truck includes scene lighting, which is particularly useful for rural departments.

“It’s got lights where we can work around the apparatus at night to illuminate the perimeter so it’s not completely dark, because we have no streetlights out here,” he said. “We’ve usually relied on flashlights and headlights.”

North said thanks to the addition of a third potential fire engine, the department’s vehicle arsenal is now qualified to help homeowners in the community earn lower insurance premiums.

“They’re partly based on your ability to dispatch resources within a certain amount of time,” he said. “It helps lower the insurance rating for the community you live in. We scored a certain number based on district size, closest mutual aid department and we’re ranking close to the top in the state there.”

The vehicle will be on display Oct. 8 at the department’s annual fish fry fundraiser.

For information on the event, email gsvfd@hotmail.com.

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Lightning strikes reported


Greenwood-Slidell firefighters responded to multiple reports of residences being struck by lightning as a storm rolled through Monday evening.

Greenwood-Slidell Chief Adam North said no structural damage was found at either home.

One at County Road 2822 did have a hot water heater burst causing minor flooding. At the other home on County Road 2723, the breaker was blown.

Greenwood-Slidell firefighters also had to remove a tree from Farm Road 455.

A resident in Greenwood reported 0.9 inches of rain Monday.

No rainfall was recorded at Decatur Municipal Airport.

Temperatures reached 101 at Decatur and Bridgeport Monday with heat indices between 102 and 108 in the afternoon.

Highs are expected to remain over 100 through Thursday. Saturday includes a 40 percent chance of rain with highs only reaching the low 90s.

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Under construction: Fire hall project slow, but steady


WORKING THROUGH IT – Greenwood-Slidell Fire Chief Adam North stands in his department’s partially-completed fire hall. Work on the building has been dependent on donations and volunteers, but North said he hopes to see it mostly finished by the end of summer. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Adam North’s to-do list just keeps growing. The Greenwood-Slidell Fire Department chief has a running list of jobs needed to complete his department’s new fire hall.

“I’ve got my notes on my phone full of stuff,” North said, “like when I think of it I just jot it down. We have volunteers that come up when they’ve got time, so we’ve got a checklist on a white board with what we need to do and what we’ve done. The other night they came up and finished out all the insulation. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

The department purchased a portable building in January after its previous home, an old church, was declared unsafe by insurance adjusters in November. Firemen have been meeting next door in the metal building that houses the department’s trucks during the arduous construction process. North said they plan to move in after the electricity, plumbing and sheet rock are completed.

“Our goal is to be able to be inside it by the end of the summer,” he said. “It’s taking longer than what we wanted but the volunteers are up here as fast as they can because they’ve got jobs during the day. To save on labor, we’re doing a lot of it ourselves. That’s helped us to stretch things further.”

The portable building was a hollow shell, but volunteer crews worked in their off time to build interior walls. While the costs and labor associated with building a new fire hall aren’t ideal, he said, the project does give the department a chance to make their new headquarters better than what they had before.

“Our goal is to be able to have training for us but also to be able to invite outside organizations in for training,” he said. “Eventually we’d like to be able to host CPR classes for the community.”

North and the department have big plans for their new headquarters, from a laundry room for cleaning gear to a small bedroom so exhausted firemen can rest after a call. One room, he said, takes priority over others.

“We’re still without a bathroom right now,” he said. “The new hall will have two, and a shower. That way, if they do get back from a call that involves bodily fluids or a hazmat situation, they can clean up instead of taking that stuff where their family is.

“We’re not a paid department, but a lot of volunteers are starting to stay at their station on days they’re available. It’s a home away from home,” he said. “In the past, if we’ve been on standby, we had to sit up here. This is something for the guys to come up if there’s some type of bad weather or droughts. They have a spot for a bed if they need it. We’d have a bathroom and training rooms and a computer to file our reports.”

To make the dream happen, North said community members from Wise County and beyond have stepped up to donate time and materials for the fire hall.

“Some people have said, ‘you buy the parts, and we’ll help with the labor,’ or vice versa, he said. “One air conditioner on the end works. One does not. We have a guy helping us out from Alvord. We’ve still got to do the sheetrock. I’ve got to come up with about 100 sheets of sheetrock.

“It’s something for the future. People will say, ‘do y’all really need that right now?’ But in five years we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “If we have the room now and the money donated to plan for the future, we plan.”

To donate to the Greenwood-Slidell Volunteer Fire Department, email gsvfd@hotmail.com or find them on Facebook. The department’s mailing address is P.O. Box 153, Slidell, TX 76276.

FIRE HALL WISHLIST

  • Drop ceiling materials and help with installation
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Cabinets
  • Countertops
  • Paint
  • Sheetrock and tape and bed
  • Handicap toilet
  • 1×4 wood trim
  • Standup washer/dryer
  • Gravel for parking lot
  • Refrigerator
  • Electric stove

If you can help acquire and/or install these items, email the Greenwood-Slidell Volunteer Fire Department at gsvfd@hotmail.com. You can also find them on Facebook.

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