Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

Palouse adds air after fire


October 31, 2019

The Palouse Fire Department bought three new oxygen cylinders following an early morning house fire Oct. 21.

“So we can bring more air with us,” said Scott Beeson, fire chief. The quick-change cylinders are rated for 45 minutes of oxygen – while that varies depending on how active a firefighter is. A cylinder holds 4,500 pounds of air.

Beeson ordered three more $1,000 cylinders to be paid for out of the department’s capital fund, so it will now have six air packs and 12 cylinders. A cylinder snaps into an air pack.

Beeson informed the joint fire board and Palouse city council of the purchases last week.

The house fire was deemed accidental, related to old electrical wiring in the first-floor ceiling, causing extensive damage.

The call went out at just past 4:30 a.m. and 13 firefighters reported to the station, putting out the nearby fire in 15-20 minutes.

“Most of the air consumption on a fire is done in mop up,” said Beeson, referring to after a fire is put out, firefighters go through the premises, knocking down walls, if need be, to make sure no burning coals remain. This is done while smoke is still present and often poisonous gases.

At the Oct. 21 fire, the Palouse department was aided by Pullman Rural Fire District 12 and the Potlatch Fire Department. The Moscow Fire Department brought a portable air compressor.

Adding three more cylinders now allows Palouse more time if they need it before neighbors arrive.

“These three bottles buy us more time to make sure we get help,” Beeson said.

Pumper-tanker back in action

The Palouse department took a 1997 HME pumper-tanker to last week’s fire; the vehicle, bought for $88,000 in 2017, was subsequently damaged and re-built after an electrical short caused a fire inside the Palouse station last winter.

The Oct. 21 alarm was the truck’s first fire call since.

The truck damage happened on the occasion of another fire call, when Palouse firefighters could not get the truck to run. They instead took another truck, and when they returned, the HME pumper-tanker was on fire in the station.

“A little bit of a shock,” said Chief Beeson.

Covered by insurance, the truck was sent to Puyallup to be re-built.

Firefighter booth at Haunted Palouse

The Palouse Fire Department opened a firefighter booth this year for the first time at Haunted Palouse, setting up just past the admission lines on Whitman Street.

Fire Chief Beeson explained that it was to promote a public presence, so people know they are there and have a simple place to go for any questions, first aid or otherwise.

“It went well. We gave out a few Band-Aids,” said Beeson.

The department is always at the four-night event, managing lines and more.


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