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Saturday, January 10, 2009

News: Lions Club in Wrightwood helps firefighters

When a fire threatens a town, or if a person needs medical help, or if a scared kitty needs to be rescued from a tree, a community can always rely on firefighters.

Members of the Timberline Lions Club from Wrightwood recently decided to return the favor and purchased $5,000 worth of ice-rescue equipment for the town's Fire Station 101.

The Lions Club spent a fifth of its yearly giving budget on the equipment, which included four ice-rescue suits and a reaching pole system.

"These suits are expensive, and the only reason we have them is because of community donation," said San Bernardino County fire Capt. Steve Roeber from Fire Station 101.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department on Friday held a training exercise at Jackson Lake near Wrightwood and tested out the donated equipment.

Firefighters from San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties took turns donning yellow suits and pulling each other out of an ice hole.

The ice-rescue suits cost $800 apiece and are designed to offer thermal protection and buoyancy. A single zipper puts on the suit, including gloves and boots.

"You don't even feel it," said San Bernardino County fire Capt. Tim Goforth, after he got out of the icy water. "The only thing cold is my face."

Most fire divisions that have an ice hazard in their coverage area have the ice-rescue equipment.

"In a small community, you need to stay close to all of your agencies and businesses," said

John Bauer, Lions Club's board member. "You need to be aware what's needed."

Every year there is at least one drowning at Jackson Lake, Bauer said.

Officials warn that the public should not attempt to make a rescue without proper equipment.

"You never want to jump in after somebody," fire Capt. Jim Pearson said. "Call for help as soon as possible."

A very healthy person can stay alive in icy water for at most 15 minutes, Pearson said.

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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