The winds across the Texas Panhandle region are just about as famous as they are hazardous; especially for first responders battling area fires. Such was the case recently, when both volunteer and full time fire fighters joined forces to battle a blaze just a few miles from the Pantex plant, with emergency personnel from Potter County, Groom, Panhandle, and Pantex joining forces in response.
At risk: a house and its neighboring structures along with the potential hazard of a propane tank in the path of the flames. The winds whipped them up and the call for an emergency response went out. Luckily, within a very short time, the fire was out and there were no injuries reported.
Pantex maintains Memorandums of Understanding with the surrounding counties adjacent to the site and when requested, will render aid. Pantex fire and ambulance crews are on standby 24 hours a day, poised to respond to any plant emergencies and to assist surrounding municipalities through their mutual aid agreement.
For the Pantex fire department and its crew, this call was another chance to not only hone their firefighting skills, but even more, an opportunity to help out neighbors in distress. Pantex Fire Chief Mike Brock knows the importance of neighbors helping neighbors.
“All of our services hinge around caring for people. When someone calls for emergency medical or fire service it is likely one of their worst days. Because of our location and the services we offer, many times we can provide the closest emergency response to incidents near the plant As Spring begins, we will start to have wild fire season and having these agreements is key to providing enough resources to address the large fast moving wild fires in our area,” he said.
The Pantex fire department is certified through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) and regularly trains to ensure it meets or exceeds TCFP continuing education requirements. Members of the department maintain certifications so they are ready to respond to any emergency that arises, whether on-site or in a neighboring community.
“Our department provides emergency response for fire, emergency medical, rescue and hazardous materials. In order to satisfy the continuing education requirements of the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, Texas Department of State Health Services and the plant, the department personnel attend regular training to ensure their knowledge is current and to test their performance skills. This training ensures our personnel are ready to respond to all types of emergencies,” added Chief Brock.
For those firefighters, it’s a chance to help people in the area, protect the region including property and remain good stewards and more importantly, good neighbors. For area towns and cities along with their residents, all that training the Pantex Fire Department receives and their willingness to respond to situations before they become disasters is a true blessing.