By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM
Constructed out of galvanized carbon steel tubing and decking, this 34-foot scaffolding structure has almost everything a fire department could want in a piece of training equipment.
Between the mock sprinklers to the contact points for lines capable of holding 10,000 pounds, the only thing that is missing is the fire.
Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 Commissioners approved the purchase of the portable drill tower in a meeting Monday.
Fire Chief Anthony Lincoln said the structure would play a crucial role in training across a variety of exercises, and would be used nearly every day.
The 34-foot-tall scaffolding structure, designed by a former Houston firefighter, simulates a three-story building with staircases, points for a fire hose, and slip-resistant surfaces.
Among the skills Lincoln said the free-standing drill tower could assist with include ground ladder operations, aerial ladder operations, advancing hose lines, rope rescues, rappelling, and more.
An instructor’s platform on the side can also double as a stand-in for an apartment’s balcony.
The free-standing structure is “portable” because a series of interlocking segments allow it to be constructed or taken down in slightly less than eight hours. The tower would be set up on a concrete platform behind the fire station’s dumpster.
Lincoln, along with Lt. Clayton Huggins, Firefighter Charles Johnson and Board Commissioner Keith Bright, had the opportunity to see a tower already installed during a department trip to Spring, which is outside of Houston.
All expressed being impressed with what they saw.
“I didn’t think it was going to be as good as it ended up being,” Bright said.
The Jollyville Fire Department already possesses a tower, and Hutto’s department is reportedly interested in buying one as well.
The total price tag comes out to an estimated $50,000, which includes an estimated $1,000 for a security fence around it. Board members agreed with the Fire Chief that youth, or other would-be trespassers, could pose a potential problem unless access was blocked.
Costs for the purchase will be taken out of the emergency service district’s sales tax, which it began collecting in June 2016. It has so far collected $339,576.67.
Earlier in the meeting, the Board also approved another purchase with money out of the “sales tax budget.”
Two automated external defibrillators, often called AEDs, were approved for purchase for $6,885.
AEDs can detect the vital signs of a victim under cardiac arrest, and can treat them through electrical application.
The devices will help fulfill a new requirement put forth by Williamson County Medical Director Dr. Jeff Jarvis.
Lincoln said the department’s old AEDs, which are set to expire within the next two years, are “like those you find at an airport” in terms of basic operation.
The new devices will have the ability to monitor the CPR administered in terms of depth, rate and other details of compressions.
The new “Standards of Care” procedures from Williamson County require that at least 10 minutes of hands-only CPR must be used before the application of a machine, such as the Lucas CPR machine recently purchased by the department.
The information recorded in the AEDs will allow the department to know what areas in the delivery of CPR can be improved.
The Board also approved a timeline for the upcoming 2017-2018 budget planning calendar. A budget plan will be presented August 14 and see final adoption on Sept. 11.
In the last meeting on April 20, the Board adopted a formal investment policy. It was thought that Bright, as the Board’s treasurer, would need to attend a training, but it was ultimately found to be unnecessary with the department’s currently limited investment practices.
The only investment the district has made to date was a $500,000 certificate of deposit with Union State Bank.. It is set to mature in the summer of 2021, but so far has earned the department $2,083.
The department responded to a total of 113 incidents in the Month of April.