Challenges of rural firefighting

A blaze that destroyed a farm building in Chocolay Township Monday morning illustrates some of the challenges of fighting fires in rural areas.

The main barn of the Seeds and Spores farm burned down.

A local fire chief says a rural setting makes a plan of attack necessary because the amount of water that crews can bring with them is limited, and the nearest water supply can be miles away.

“The biggest thing is, obviously, sometimes you need to think ahead of time, pre-plan like maybe calling ahead for mutual aid, other tankers from other departments,” Ishpeming Township Fire Chief Gerald Hebert said. We all share that, where a lot of the local departments are all having the same issue with water source.”

He also says it’s important to communicate with responding firefighters because, depending on the scene, there are sometimes things a homeowner or property owner can do to help out.

“Sometimes if the local people know of a water bed or a river, a creek or something that they have close by, obviously keeping their driveways cleaned out and brushed because, as you can see, our trucks are fairly large to be doing things in remote areas that may not have good roads,” Chief Hebert said.

The Ishpeming Township Fire Department conducts training every Monday night.

The volunteers have to map out the 360 square miles of land that they cover so that they know where the closest water sources are at all times.