With record drought and an unusually high number of wildfires, volunteer fire fighters in rural Clay County have encountered another problem this year, where to get enough water to feed their tankers.
Now, after a bit of brainstorming, two departments –Bluegrove and Joy – have a reliable source big enough to fill one of the largest tankers in the county three times before recharging. With some of the labor coming from Clay County Precinct 3 hands, the project was done at almost no cost to either volunteer fire department.
In year’s past, fire fighters seeking water in rural parts of the county have come to rely on dry hydrants placed strategically across the county, which allows tankers to pump water directly out of stock tanks. This year was no different, until the ponds began to dry up.
“This year, they’ve pretty much lived up to their name,” said Earnest Seigler, Bluegrove VFD chief.
It was Seigler and Roger Peden, both from the Joy area, who put together the idea.
Peden first contacted Rick Wolsey of Bowie, who owns an out-of-use disposal well near Joy at the intersection of Hwy. 148 South and Peden Road. Located on the parcel of land is a strong water well and plenty of room for trucks to turn around.
Seigler’s plan was to pump water from the well in a storage tank, used in the fracking of oil wells, already at the location. That fell through, literally, when it was realized that the floor of the tank was rusted out. The departments then contacted Joy area rancher and former Precinct 3 Commissioner Wilson Scaling, who secured a donation of two 210-barrel crude oil storage tanks from Bridwell Oil Company.
With the battery tanks in place, the Texas Forest Service donated a military-grade water pump to fill the fire trucks.
The system has the capability to store 18,480 gallons of water, or enough to fill the county tanker truck three times. Once depleted, the tanks will be refilled by a line running from the water well. The Forest Service pump, powered by a three-cylinder diesel engine, puts out 750 gallons per minute, enough to fill a medium-size fire department tanker in less than five minutes.
Seigler said the system will be beneficial to the fire departments not only because it is dependable, but because it uses clean fresh water. Part of the problem with dry hydrants and stock tanks is that the water is often muddy, especially in a dry year when water levels are low. The particles in muddy water are hard on pun seals and can damage equipment.