Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District Captain Rescued in Death Valley

IMG_7394.JPG

Three members of the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District (Captain Thornton Brown, Captain Jeff Liming and Fire Medic Matt Millar) embarked on a technical canyoneering descent last week in Hades Canyon in Death Valley.  This is said to be perhaps the toughest adventure hike in Death Valley and one which is only for the most experienced and fit canyoneer.  The trip was the second adventure the three firefighters had taken to the area.  Last year they successfully descended Bad Canyon.

 

This area in Death Valley is an arid, desert environment with extreme temperature changes ranging from highs in the upper 80’s this time of year to lows in the 40’s and winds gusting up to 50 mph.  In preparation for this trip, the group spent time reviewing and practicing rappel, rope and anchor techniques, studied topographical maps and journals of previous group trips on this descent, which included pictorials of the types of anchors you might expect to see.  Typical anchors in Hades Canyon are created using streambed boulders.  Having been to the area last year, the group had some experience in planning and had more than enough rope to rappel, retrieval rope plus extra, enough food and water and appropriate clothing to spend a night in the canyon if needed.  The group had also left a note on the dash of the truck at their end point noting that their intent was to be out of the canyon on Thursday night or Friday morning as well as informing friends and family when they should expect phone contact indicating they were out of the canyon.

 

The hike starts at approximately 5,475 feet in elevation at the parking lot, includes 14 rappels and ends near Bad Water at around 200 feet below sea level.   The group started their day in the parking lot around 7:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 13.  They had covered approximately 3,500 feet in elevation and 4 ½ miles of linear distance when around 3:30 p.m. during the fourth rappel; Captain Thornton Brown lost control of a rappel and suffered an approximate 40 foot fall.  He was the first of the three to rappel down.  Fire Medic Millar and Captain Liming were able to communicate with Captain Brown asking him what he thought his injuries were and the other two began their descent down to help him.

 

After Fire Medic Millar and Captain Liming reached Captain Brown, they did a complete assessment and found that the injuries he sustained would prevent him from hiking out on his own.  The group spent time working together to make a decision on whether or not Fire Medic Millar would go out alone to get help or for both Captain Liming and Fire Medic Millar to go out together.  Because Captain Brown’s injuries did not appear life threatening and the group had sufficient water, food and clothing they determined it wasn’t critical for Captain Brown to get out that night.  They decided the biggest potential for something more to go wrong would be for Fire Medic Millar to go out alone in case something happened to him.  The group spent time stabilizing Captain Brown’s injuries and repositioning him below an overhang to protect him from rock fall.  Captain Brown was left with a down jacket, a gallon plus of water and food and the other two members of his team proceeded out of the canyon to get help around 5 p.m.

 

After another four rappels, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Fire Medic Millar and Captain Liming set up a bivy and spent the night in the canyon for safety reasons.  The duo proceeded out of the canyon at first light on Friday, April 14 and contact was made with local emergency services at approximately 11:30 a.m.  The Inyo County Search and Rescue and National Park Service emergency services personnel contacted California Highway Patrol Inland Division Air Operations (H-80) for a hoist rescue immediately after speaking with Fire Medic Millar.  Fire Medic Millar said “a traditional high-angle rope rescue with a ground crew would have been an extraordinarily difficult extrication involving a great deal of trained personnel and multiple days.”

 

CHP H-80 located Captain Brown in what they said was “some of the most inhospitable terrain” their area has to offer.  H-80 worked their way up the canyon to where Captain Brown was positioned and lowered a rescuer from 100 feet to evaluate and package him for a hoist.  The crew of H-80 had Captain Brown on the ground in Furnace Creek in just over four hours of being notified.  Captain Brown was assessed by an ambulance crew and evaluated at the local hospital is Pahrump, Nevada and was able to fly home commercially the next day.

 

Fire Medic Millar said that during the trip, “many lessons were reaffirmed including: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, be prepared to stay out at night, carry extra water, food and have appropriate clothing and think through and take your time in making critical decisions.”

 

Fire Medic Millar said as an emergency response professional, he “understands how incredibly efficient the response was and has the utmost appreciation for assumed risk that rescue personnel take on with such work.”  The group offered their sincerest thanks and respect to all of the responders for a job well done.

(Photo: from left to right – Captain Brown, Fire Medic Millar and Captain Liming)

 

#   #   #

Structure Fire Damages Sisters Home

Bitterbrush structure fire

Date of incident: 4-12-2017

Time of Alarm: 8:13 A.M.

Address: 16736 Bitterbrush Ln.

 

Quick action by homeowners and a rapid response from the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District kept a wall fire from extending to the entire home.  Homeowners Chris and John Zandofsky noticed smoke and flames in the wall near a pellet stove and called 911.  The homeowners used a garden hose to slow the progress of the fire while the fire department responded.  When firefighters arrived they found flames and sparks in the wall and used a chainsaw to gain access to the concealed fire.  Fire Chief Roger Johnson said, “We were fortunate someone was home and noticed the fire early”.  Fire damage was limited to 3 foot by 3 foot area where the pellet stove flue passed through the exterior wall of the home.

Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District responded with 12 firefighters and six emergency vehicles.  Additional units from Cloverdale Fire District and Black Butte Ranch Fire District also responded to the fire but were cancelled prior to arrival.

Fire District to Host Open House!

Sparky

For Immediate Release:

 

The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District will be hosting an open house on Saturday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the main fire station located at 301 South Elm Street in Sisters.  Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the facility, check out the apparatus, and meet local fire and emergency medical response personnel as well as Fire Corps members.  Come see us and get a blood pressure check, learn more about FireMed membership and watch firefighter skills demonstrations including: ladder throws, advancing a charged hose line, donning and doffing personal protective equipment and more.  Staff will be on hand to answer questions, hand out literature and even discuss volunteer opportunities.

 

For more information, contact the administration office at 541-549-0771.

Fire District Receives Improved ISO Rating

IMG_1314

For Immediate Release

 Contact: Roger Johnson Fire Chief (541) 549-0771, or 541-430-7395 Cell.

Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District Receives New Rating

Residents of the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District (District) may see reduced fire insurance rates as a result of a recently completed survey by the Insurance Services Office (ISO).  ISO is an independent company that serves insurance companies, communities, fire departments, insurance regulators and others by providing information about risk.  ISO has evaluated and classified over 46,000 fire protection areas across the United States utilizing a standardized fire suppression rating schedule.  ISO assigns a public protection classification (PPC) rating to fire departments on a scale from 1 to 10.  A one is the best rating possible with only 241 departments in the country achieving this rating.  A rating of 10 indicates the department does not meet the minimum criteria for recognition or may have areas of the fire district where homes are located more than five miles from a fire station.

The District received a class 3 rating which places it in the top ten percent of all departments in the United States.  The class 3 rating applies to properties within five miles of a recognized fire station which includes the stations located on Elm Street in Sisters, Buffalo Drive in Squaw Creek Canyon Estates and the Camp Sherman Fire Station.  The District’s previous rating was a split rating of 4/8b with properties having a higher rating if they were located more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant.  The new rating provides a flat rate for all properties within five miles of a fire station.  The District also received a new rating for some property owners whose homes are located between five and seven miles from a fire station.  Owners of these properties would have been rated as a class 10 in the past.  The new rating is a 10W which recognizes the Districts ability to reduce property loss during a fire utilizing water tenders to bring water to the fire.

The District was last evaluated in 2013 and has made significant improvements since then.  The District expanded automatic and mutual aid agreements with Cloverdale and Black Butte Ranch Fire Districts, improved training programs and staffing.  The District also received nearly maximum points for its community risk reduction programs.  Fire Chief Roger Johnson said, “We are very excited about our new rating and how it may help the residents of the District”.  Johnson also credited the partnerships that were critical in receiving the improved rating, “We have worked very closely with our neighboring agencies to improve services and to integrate our emergency response system”.  The City of Sisters and other community water associations were also a critical factor in the rating.  Forty percent of the overall score is based on the water supply in the community. The new rating becomes effective July 1, 2017.

###

Annual Halloween Party and Safety Tips!

sisters-fire-halloween

ANNUAL HALLOWEEN PARTY AT THE FIRE STATION

Spooks, goblins, and kids are invited to a howling good time at the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Station from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, October 31.

Come play games and – if you dare – venture into the haunted maze at the annual Halloween event.

There will be refreshments, prizes, and candy for all the trick-or-treaters. Grab your friends and join the volunteers for a screaming fun time!

For more info call 541-549-0771 or visit www.sistersfire.com. Continue reading