fire

Mose Buchele, KUT News

Travis County is under a burn ban for the first time this summer.

Fire Marshal Hershel Lee says the area has been getting drier over the past few months and yesterday’s rain just wasn’t enough to make a significant different in the soil moisture.

“There’s very little moisture in the top eight inches of soil for plants to grow so the plants have lost their fuel moisture and are more susceptible to fire starting easily," Lee said. "With all of these factors taken into consideration, long-term forecast of 10 to 12 days of 100 degree weather, we felt it was time to implement a burn ban.”

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office says the deaths of 12 people responding to last year’s explosion at the West Fertilizer plant could have been prevented.

The Fire Marshal’s report [PDF] released Thursday night says the first responders killed in the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West,Texas  were not prepared or equipped to deal with such a dangerous situation.

The report says that is not because the first responders failed to perform their duties as they had been trained, but due to a “systemic deficiency in the training and preparation” of the firefighters.

KUT News

Virtually all firefighters rely on a simple device designed to alert their fellow firefighters when they need help.

It’s called a Personal Alert Safety System, or PASS.  It’s basically a sensor that measures whether the person wearing it is moving. If they're incapacitated or immobilized, the PASS sets off a 95 decibel alarm to draw the attention -- and assistance -- of other firefighters.