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A challenging landscape for local firefighters

Rural areas can create challenges for volunteer fire departments in our area. That's why some of them have developed strategies to fight fires around challenging Tri-State landscapes.

Rural areas can create challenges for volunteer fire departments in our area.

That's why some of them have developed strategies to fight fires around challenging Tri-State landscapes.

Fire destroyed a Liberty, Illinois barn two days ago.

Three fire departments responded to the call.

The structure fire was on a steep hill -- too steep for firetrucks.

But it turned out to be a hill firefighters were willing to climb...thanks to an alternative form of transportation.

Bill Phillips serves as chief of Central Adams Fire Protection District.

"You just gotta use what you got," said Phillips.

Phillips is referring to the department's ATV that he rigged together eight years ago...specifically to fight fires.

Phillips says serving a rural area has its challenges--especially when a call comes in that is difficult to get to.

"This one here is equipped with 70 gallons of water," Phillips said.

Just earlier this week, this barn caught fire in Liberty. Firefighters couldn't get their trucks close to the structure fire.

"Because it was such a steep hill," Phillips explained.

The solution? An ATV. This one at Central Adams can hold enough water to fight a fire for five minutes.

"And you can put out a lot of fire in five minutes," Phillips said.

Before purchasing the ATV, firefighters would use portable water tank backpacks with a manual water pump.

"You know when you have to pack equipment in a quarter of a mile, if I have to walk it in, you're talking several minutes. This I'm in there less than a minute," stated Phillips.

Phillips says another challenge the rural department faces is not having enough water to put out a big fire.

"If we get like a pond or something, we can actually stick a suction hose in it," said Phillips.

In the meantime, Phillips wants to do everything he can to help those in need...regardless of the landscape around them.

"I don't mind helping people. It doesn't bother me. 2:00 in the morning if you're in a car wreck, I’ll come get you out if I can," Phillips said.

Phillips says he hopes to get another water tank for the department in the future.

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