Firefighter discuss safety tactics while fighting fires - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Firefighters discuss safety tactics while fighting fires

19 firefighters who were killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday night in Arizona. 19 firefighters who were killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday night in Arizona.

Huntsville Firefighters battle blazes almost every day, but said the chances of them having a fire like the one in Arizona are slim.

"Most of our fires, if a field is on fire, it's just what we would call a ground cover fire. It's just the things on the ground that are burning," said Huntsville Interim Fire Chief Howard McFarlen.  "The flames may be fairly high but nothing like what you would see out there."

McFarlen said structure fires are their biggest problem in the Huntsville area. But no matter what the call, they try to stay safe with every fire they fight, that includes working in pairs and even using their rapid intervention team if necessary.

"Their whole job is if something goes really bad that they are ready with extra tools and equipment to be able to go in and try to rescue our firefighters if they get in trouble," he said. 

McFarlane said that the heat and wind play a big part in determining how soon a fire is put out. 

"A wind shift can change your whole where you are in just a few minutes as far as the danger aspect of it," he said. 

The deaths of the 19 firefighter's hits close to home for the men here in the Valley.

"It's bad not to think about not having one firefighter and having to deal with that type of loss," McFarlen said.  "It's almost unimaginable to deal with how you would go about telling 19 families someone is not going home."

McFarlen said they see a lot of structure fires this time of year. Not only because it's the Fourth of July and people are playing with fireworks, but because of the heat and dry conditions.

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