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Fire Departments Train Together with Live Fire

First responders from three Central Texas fire departments are planning to fight fires together this month to support their commitment to safety and effectiveness.

Pflugerville, Round Rock and Hutto firefighters are training side-by-side Feb. 10 and Feb. 17 at Travis County ESD No. 2’s Training Field, located in the rural eastern portion of the Pflugerville-based fire district. They will set fires in the burn facility to practice a renewed firefighting technique called SLICERS that is gaining national attention.

Pflugerville Fire Department's Command Staff closely follow firefighting research to ensure Pflugerville’s firefighters have the best information possible. Department leaders point to a key component of the SLICERS technique that calls for cooling a fire as soon as possible by first spraying water from the outside of the burning structure. This challenges common practice around the country the past several years, when firefighters were more likely to enter a burning building before applying water.

“There’s a generational fear of possibly ‘pushing’ a fire by putting on water right away from the exterior,” Battalion Chief of Training Nick Perkins said. “But research has shown if it’s done correctly, meaning specific placement of the hose nozzle and water stream, it is still effective and a lot safer.”

The technique is not new. Historically, it was how firefighting was almost always done until the 1980s, when conflicting information began emerging in fire academies about “pushing fire” and firefighters’ protective gear improved. Now, thanks to a recent surge of research, the age-old firefighting strategy is beginning to reemerge.

“The bottom line is that when firefighters start their attack inside a building, their risks are much higher,” Battalion Chief Perkins said. “The training this month with other departments will give us valuable practice to help keep our communities — and ourselves — safer.”

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