Columbus Fire Rescue District travel during fire seasons to help - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Columbus Fire Rescue District travel during fire seasons to help in wildland fires

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

It's not just wildland firefighters who battle the blazing fires burning in the forests. Various fire departments throughout the country help. One neighboring fire district will travel every fire season to battle the flames alongside wildland firefighters.

Fire Chief Rich Cowger said the Columbus Rural Fire District has always trained in structural firefighting, EMS, and even wildland response.

"We work cooperatively with Montana DNRC and so if a request comes in, be it within the state or an outer region, another state, or through the federal ordering system, they can put a request in and we'll send out engines if need be."

The chief said the team has two different sets of firefighter gear. Columbus firefighter paramedic Summerlee Luckow explained some of the differences.

"Structural gear is a lot thicker," Luckow said. "It's rated for a lot higher temperatures. When you go into a burning building, they can get upwards of hundreds and hundreds of degrees where a wildland, it's quite hot, but you're out in the open. So having something that's a little lighter, you can go for 12-18 hours in."

Chief Cowger said wildland fire training is essential to Columbus firefighters because the town is surrounded by wildland.    

"We train to national standards, all of our firefighters are required at a basic level to have a basic wildland's class and then there's several that go up from there," Chief Cowger said.

So why travel to other places to help battle other wild fires that aren't hitting home?

"They send people here all the time to help us out, so being able to return the favor is pretty cool," Luckow said.

Columbus Fire Rescue is just one of the fire districts around the area that travel to battle wildfires.

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