The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Robotics Club visits local fire department


August 17, 2017

The Wahkiakum 4-H Robotics Club with Chief Beutler and the fire truck. Photo by Jessica Vik

Firefighting can be a tough and dangerous job. Our community is made up of wonderful volunteers who come running when a call for help is made. The robotics club met with Chief Mike Beutler of Puget Island Fire District 1 last Friday evening. Technology such as oxygen level indicators on their air masks, TIC (thermal imaging camera) that helps them "see through the smoke" to find heat, and automatic pressure regulating on the truck's water system all help keep our volunteers safe and efficient when on a call.

This department has two trucks, a 1986 Ford Pumper #101 and a 2009 Freightliner Tender/Pumper #102. The trucks were parked next to each other to compare their operating systems. The newer truck is run digitally using sensors, alarms, pressure regulators, and digital readouts while the older truck is operated manually by an operator using gauges and valves. The programming of the sensors and motors that our robotics kids do with their robots is a baby step in the direction of how the #102 truck operates.

The highlight was getting to see the front mounted monitor spray water, operated by a joystick in the cab of the truck. This was very beneficial in a few of the recent fire calls they responded to. The first few minutes can make a big difference in the outcome of the fire. This robotic fire nozzle can help the team get a jump on the fire as the rest of the crew is getting outfitted, running lines, and setting up incident command or where a moving attack is needed.

The Fire Hall is always looking for new volunteers who want to help make a difference in their community. Beutler talked to the kids about being able to join the fire department at age 16. Once age 18 you can go into the building to fight fires. "I love to teach," said Beutler, who's career is in manufacturing and sales of fire service equipment. "Sometimes I wonder if I picked the wrong profession!" A good teacher is what the department needs to help new members learn. Many from the community have been involved in the volunteer paramedic and fire fighting departments.


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