Last Ditch Shelter - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Last Ditch Shelter

Deployment shelters are carried by firefighters in extreme situations only. They are a sort of aluminum blanket, designed to protect from radiant and convective heat and keep cool breathable air locked inside. These shelters were used by the 19 members of the elite Hotshots Team in Arizona. Those elite firefighters tragically perished in that fire.

"It's there for when things go wrong, when the unexpected happens," said Tyler Raynes, Regional Fire Coordinator for Texas A&M Forest Service.

"So you do everything you can and at the last second, that's when you get into your deployment shelter," said Casey Ramsey, Lieutenant for the Wichita Falls Fire Department.

Conditions when fighting wildfires are unpredictable, which is why the shelters are kept with firefighters, attached to their packs filled with other equipment.

"It's always a changing environment on a fire. I mean, that's something we're constantly evaluating is the escape routes and the safety zones, it's ever-changing all throughout your assignment," said Raynes.

Firefighters train with the deployment shelters. The goal is to deploy the safety shelter and be inside within 20 seconds. When they are used in real situations every second counts.

"We do an annual fire training and it's usually with the shelter and usually an L.C.E.S. It's lookouts, communications, escape routes. It's something we constantly go over," said Raynes.

Ramsey said, the shelters are only used as a last ditch effort. The most important thing is to run as fast and far from the fire as possible, before deploying it, as it will be a matter of life and death.

"You know the shelter is the absolute last resort. Everything else is there for my personal use, my use of helping me work better on the fire lines. But, as far as the shelter goes that is there strictly as a last resort to save my life," said Ramsey.

One of the standard firefighter orders says, fight fires aggresively - providing for safety first, and that's exactly what these hero's do each and every day.

Jenyne Donaldson, Newschannel Six.

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