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Passing Trains Cause Problems For Area Firefighters

Can you imagine the frustration a firefighter must feel to see a fire but not be able to reach it in time? Some firefighters in the Big Country know that feeling too well.

For firefighters, time is the difference between life and death. With the intensity of fire said to at least double every 60 seconds, the saying 'every minute counts' stands true for crews responding to a call. The Cisco fire department provided KTAB Reporter LaDyrian Cole with video showing an issue that occurs at least twice a month, sometimes preventing its team from reaching scenes in time. A call came in on Monday night reporting a trailer fire not too far from the Cisco fire station. But instead of getting to the fire scene in the two minutes it would typically take, the firefighters were delayed as a train passed on at one of two of the town's sets of railroad tracks.

As the firefighters sat on one side of the tracks, they could see the flames growing larger on the other side. By the time the team reached the home, it was completely engulfed in flames and far passed the point of salvaging. Cisco Chief Walter Fairbanks says the train delay didn't affect the results of this fire, but he's worried that may not be the case if a structure like Cisco College caught fire and his team ran into the same type of delay. Chief Fairbanks says, in that case, his team would have to take an alternate route that would tact on an additional 5 miles. This would also be a case in which the Cisco Fire Department would ask for assistance from surrounding fire departments that could reach the fire in question.

Train delaying fire operation isn't only an issue in Cisco and other small towns. Abilene Fire Lieutenent Greg Goettsch says it's rarely happens in the town but it happens. In the case that it does, the Abilene Fire Department has an advantage over ones in smaller towns. It has stations located across the town, on both sides of the tracks. There are also more overpasses and underpasses firefighters could take if a passing train gets in their way.

But for firefighters in towns like Cisco, the train delay is a problem with limited solutions. Chief Fairbanks says his team is always thinking of a 'plan b' for the next time they're delayed by a passing train.
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