Tiverton, Little Compton firefighters shuttle water

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TIVERTON, LITTLE COMPTON — From a cow pond along Treaty Rock Road, firefighters from Little Compton and Tiverton recently practiced shuttling water in tanker trucks three miles away to an imaginary fire scene at a wildlife preserve near Pachet Brook Farm south of Four Corners.

There, at the intersection of  Pond View and Main Roads, they pretended to extinguish flames with the transported water, arcing a stream high in the air onto a green field from a nozzle atop a pumper truck.

The dramatic action over nearly a four hour period  — pumper truck, a dozen firefighters and their chiefs, command vehicles, several tanker trucks, a (brand new) rescue vehicle, folding water tanks on the ground, and all that water — slowed traffic in both directions on the road.

In firefighter-speak it was called "tanker shuttle practice." The object was to see how quickly the firefighters could deploy from the fire station, pull water from the pond, transport it to a remote scene, dump it into folding tanks on the ground, then suck it up into the pumper truck and spray it onto flames.

Little Compton Fire Chief Rick Petrin said the test goal was to try to have water onto flames within ten minutes from the crew's arrival at a fire scene. That includes positioning vehicles, setting up folding ground tanks, and dumping and pumping the water.

"There's no water in town," he said, speaking about a well-known fire-fighting challenge in Little Compton. There are no fire hydrants scattered along the roads. "There's no way we can flow water."

As a result, he said, firefighters need to be able to find ponds and other bodies of water from which, in emergencies, they can quickly get water and truck it to a fire.

"We have to be able to pump 250 gallons per minute for 20 minutes to meet one of the test criteria," he said.

"We're trying to improve the ISO rating for our towns, so there's method to our madness," he said.

ISO (Insurance Services Office) is an acronym which denotes a town's overall capability to respond to fires. The ISO rating system is used by the insurance industry to set homeowner insurance premium schedules for communities.

Chief Petrin said, "right now Little Compton has an ISO 9 rating. I'm trying to get it down to an 8B. If we succeed,  every homeowner in town will show a savings in their homeowners' insurance rates."

Tiverton Fire Chief Robert Lloyd, who with Chief Petrin, participated in Friday's tanker practice, said Tiverton's ISO ratings are ISO 4 in some parts of town, and ISO 9 in others.

Seven firefighters from Tiverton, and five from Little Compton participated, said Chief Petrin, along with two pumper trucks and two tankers, one from each town.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.