Preparing for the worst: G-town Loop builds firefighting train car

By Ian Neligh
Posted 8/24/09

Five years ago, a careless passenger on the Georgetown Loop Railroad tossed a cigarette into the forest. A small fire started, but luckily an employee spotted it before it burned out of control. It …

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Preparing for the worst: G-town Loop builds firefighting train car

Posted

Five years ago, a careless passenger on the Georgetown Loop Railroad tossed a cigarette into the forest.

A small fire started, but luckily an employee spotted it before it burned out of control.

It was a minor incident but one that has stuck with the Loop marketing manager Tom Hill over the years. The problem: A lot of the area around the train tracks is remote and would be difficult to access in a fire emergency.

Hill’s solution: two tanks, a train car, red paint and 3,000 gallons of water.

Last Friday, Hill and operations manager Dan Homack took the newly built fire-service train car out to demonstrate their tool to help local firefighters combat potential blazes in hard-to-get-at areas.

An engine pulled the firefighting car onto a side track where it will wait to battle any future wild fire. As it made its maiden voyage, it passed by mountainsides speckled with the brown of beetle kill.

“The best thing is no fires at all,” Hill said. “In the last four years we’ve been lucky.”

A pump feeds water from each of the tanks through a hose. Hill, who designed the car, said putting it together wasn’t difficult.

Hill had the idea a year ago to build the firefighting car, but it was only in the last month or so that his idea began to take shape.

Originally, he thought his idea would cost about $6,000 to implement. But after finding some tanks sold locally and a little bit of negotiating, he was able to have the firefighting train car built for a little over $1,000.

“We finally got done, and I hope it sits there and rusts,” Hill said candidly.

“Forest fires, they’re god-awful. The only way you ever win is if you catch them at the beginning. I just hope we never end up having to use it.”

Clear Creek Fire Authority Fire Chief Kelly Babeon said he hadn’t seen the train car but hopes it will prove useful if it’s needed.

“It should be helpful. It’s a good idea. Hopefully we can make it work for everybody,” Babeon said.

Babeon added that because of the wet summer the county has received local fire activity has been quiet.

“We’ve been pretty lucky.”

Contact Ian Neligh at couranteditor@evergreenco.com, and check www.clearcreekcourant.com for updates and breaking news.

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