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Denison firefighters take part in statewide stand down for safety

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

DENISON, TX -- Texas state fire officials directed all fire departments to take part in a safety stand down today, which means suspending all activities other than calls, to focus on safety measures to prevent accidents and death.

Denison firefighters say after losing two of their own, they'll do whatever it takes to prevent it from happening again.

14 firefighters died in the line of duty while battling a blaze at this West fertilizer plant site in April. Just two days ago, four Houston firefighters were laid to rest following a roof collapse at a five alarm motel fire.

"It does sadden us because these are brothers, and these are guys that are doing the same job that we do here," Assistant Fire Chief Bill Ray said.

"It does hit home and it does, you know, hurt," Batallion Chief Steve Hayes said.

Denison Fire Department knows the pain too well. They've lost two firefighters in roof collapses. In 1989, T.O. Fulce was killed in the line of duty, and in 2006 Phillip Townsend lost his life.

To prevent similar tragedies, crews spent Friday reviewing and discussing what to do in roof collapse scenarios. Today's message: no fire is worth a life.

"We want to make sure we are as safe as we possibly can when we're entering a fire scene," Hayes said.

Firefighters say older buildings are always a cause for concern because of age-deterioration, and the way their roofs are constructed. They say when they're heated firefighters expect them to collapse.

"We do pre-fire plans. We go into these buildings when we're not fighting fires and stuff. And we take a look so that we can identify which buildings are constructed that way," Ray said.

Assistant Fire Chief Bill Ray says they haven't been able to pre-fire plan all Denison buildings, but they're working towards that goal.

Denison firefighters train year-round for several types of emergencies, and they review reports of firefighter accidents and deaths across the country.

"One of the important things that we like to do is learn from these things and learn what took place. And we'll be reading those reports as they come in from that Houston fire," Ray said.

The Bonham and and Sherman fire departments reviewed safety measures as part of today's stand down as well.


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