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Texas A&M Forest Service demonstrate fire shields Arizona firefighters used

By Kristen Pope, Reporter, kpope@ktxs.com
Published On: Jul 02 2013 07:38:45 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 03 2013 11:26:42 AM CDT
MERKEL, Texas -

As the fire in Arizona got worse, the wildland firefighters used their fire shelters to try and protect themselves from the flames.

On Sunday, 19 members of a hotshot crew from Prescott's fire department in Yarnell, Arizona died despite using their shelters, a tent-like contraption made of fire-resistant material.

Authorities said the Arizona firefighters did exactly what they should have done in such a tough situation by trying to protect themselves with the shelters.

The Texas A&M Forest service statement command post in Merkel demonstrated how to use the aluminum like shields the hot shot crew used to protect from the growing inferno.

It comes in a blue pouch that every firefighter carries with them along with their P.P. or personal property. Firefighters pull the folded shield out of the box, then it expands and they step into it and make sure their feet are facing the fire.

However, these aluminum shields do not protect from everything.

"It's not really designed to protect from flame," Texas A&M Public Information Officer Joe Kozlowski said. "You know a lot of direct flame can still burn a fire shelter, but it does a decent job of protecting a firefighter from the heat of the fire and trying to protect them in that way."

The deadly fires of 2011 were a record year for wildfires in Texas. Kozlowski said when fire occurrences are low, this is the time plan ahead.

"We're not seeing a lot of fires out here right now but for that reason now is the time to prepare because if all this dries out when we do have fires its too late to prepare," Kozlowski said.

Texas fire agencies are preparing to send a team of firefighters to Arizona to help. Right now the fire in Arizona is at 8400 acres.

Firefighters have tactics that they use to stay in touch in these situations. They use L.C.E.S, which stands for lookouts, which makes sure there's always someone who see everything around them; communication, either radio or face-to-face where someone is there to make sure everyone is aware of what's going to around them; escape routes, ways to get out of danger quickly and safety zones, areas where potential safety from fire can be found.