All-Volunteer Fire Department Contains Blaze

New, larger hoses help disperse water in larger quantities

CHEWELAH, Wash. -- An out of-control car exploded on impact when it crashed into the front porch of a small home, causing a massive inferno.

"It was early in the morning, about 5 a.m.," said Doug Sassman, fire chief for the Chewelah Volunteer Fire Department. "Somehow the car exploded and things went from bad to worse really quick."

The house was less than 10 feet away from an emergency medical station and there was not enough room in between the buildings for proper ventilation.

"The fire was so large it looked like two oil wells had exploded," Sassman said. "We thought we were going to lose both buildings."

However, thanks to an AFG Grant the department received in 2003, the all-volunteer crew was able to fight the blaze in record time with high-volume output water hoses. The department replaced all of their 2.5-inch hoses with 5-inch high-volume hoses as well as upgraded the connectors.

"The amount of water we were able to getout made the difference," Sassman said.

"If it would have been any less, we wouldn't have been able to save the structures."

Due to their efforts, the emergency medical center was saved, the wood fence in between the two structures was also saved and the house that originally caught fire suffered less damage.

"The guys did an excellent job getting everything hooked up right away and putting up a water screen," Sassman said. "We contained the fire faster and we saved the other structures."

The new, larger hoses, put out about 1,000 gallons of water per minute, Sassman said.

"You just can't get that much water through a hose half that size," he added. "It makes a huge difference in fighting fires."

The 35-member Chewelah Volunteer Fire Department now has three trucks outfitted with the larger, 5-inch hoses.

"We couldn't have made this upgrade without the AFG Grant," Sassman said. "It has proven beneficial time and again throughout the years."

What they bought:

  • 1,000 feet of 5-inch high-volume hose
Last updated February 11, 2021