Hays fire department adapts to water restrictions

HAYS, Kan. — The drought conditions around Hays have led to water restrictions for all residents, even the local fire department, so crews are finding ways to adapt.

Hays firefighters got a rare training session with water Wednesday morning but it meant an early start.

They had to be done before city-wide water restrictions started at 10 a.m.

“It starts our work day off a little quick, but like I said it’s something we have to cope with due to the drought scenario, just trying to get our water flow done before restriction time,” said Tyler Brungardt, a Hays firefighter.

During training it takes a crew of four firefighters only two minutes to get water going and with two firefighters it takes four minutes.

“It’s gone pretty well, every time we do something there is usually a hiccup or something, something always happens. Today’s gone pretty well,” said Travis Hageman, another Hays firefighter.

The fire department has focused on dry line training recently, due to the drought. They are doing half as many exercises as they normally do with water and when they do practice, they are conserving water as much as they can.

“It would be like a pro football team practicing with a Nerf football. Kinks in the hose, those sorts of things that you can’t simulate without water but there are a lot of things you can learn with dry line drills too,” said Gary Brown, the Hays Fire Chief.

The training went smoothly, providing a more difficult and real-life scenario for firefighters.

“If we do any training after nine or ten in the morning we do it with dry lines and it does make a difference, the dry lines are easier to handle. We don’t get the same nozzle reaction that we do with the water in the line but that’s why we’re out here early,” said Brungardt.

Regardless of the water restrictions, the chief says training like this will continue to ensure they can safely respond to any fire emergency.

“It’s what professional fire departments do to serve the people. We have to practice so we can serve the people properly,” said Chief Brown.

The water restrictions in Hays start with no outdoor watering from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and anyone not complying will be subject to a fine that increases with every ticket.

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