Firefighters use hand tools to fight a simulated fire at Possum Kingdom State Park Saturday, part of a TFS training exercise.
Firefighters use hand tools to fight a simulated fire at Possum Kingdom State Park Saturday, part of a TFS training exercise. (Mark Engebretson)
The Texas A&M Forest Service held a day of training at Possum Kingdom State Park Saturday. "It offers different terrains and the fuel," said John Reese, TFS information officer and assistant fire chief at Wichita Falls. "This has a history of wildfires." The exercise was dubbed the PK Complex, named after the fires that swept through the park in 2011. "It's a repeat of the 2011 incident at the state park," Reese said, adding that humidities were low and fuel levels high. Three simulations were used, each with a different set of problems but each reflecting what firefighters faced during the PK Complex fires of 2011. Firefighters were also briefed on equipment packages and means of efficiently combating flames, such as the use of Class A foam - dish soap. The foam, instructors told the firefighters, breaks down water tension allowing the penetration into wood. Without it, water beads and will not effectively extinguish a wood fire. The exercise pulled in departments from Abilene, Burkburnett, Vernon, Wichita County, Stephenville, Wichita Falls, Brownwood and Coleman, all part of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System. This team is part of a state network of incident management teams. "This whole exercise meshes together one management team," Reese explained. He said that the incident management team and TIFMAS respond to any and all disasters, whether hurricanes, tornados or wildfires - even to the disaster in West. Steve Lewandowski, PK State Park assistant superintendant, said some park employees had recently returned from similar training. "A lot of agencies are doing the same training," he said. "We're just excited to have a facility they can use," he added. "It also gives them knowledge of where everything's at."