Nearby, City Parks Department supervisor David Chapa was smiling as he watched the BVFD’s biggest pumpers sucking thousands of gallons of water out of the Bernardo Sandoval, Sr. Municipal Swimming Pool at the Martin Luther King Recreational Park.
Both were happy because they were getting the pool pumped out for maintenance later this year and the firefighters were getting to practice their drafting.
Morris explained that all fire departments occasionally end up using the drafting technique when water supplies are hard to find.
Local firefighters may use a private swimming pool or a full stock pond when they need water to fight a house or brush fire.
Chapa estimated that the city pool had about 250,000 gallons of water and nearby the Beeville Youth Soccer League had planted several thousand dollars worth of fresh sod on its fields in the park.
The long, hot summer days had already taken a toll on the sod. And much of the chlorine in the pool water had evaporated, leaving a nice, green coat of algae on the bottom. It was just right for watering grass.
Chapa said city employees had spent hours the previous day taking down part of the fence around the pool so the firefighters could get their big pumper, Engine 3, into the pool compound. As two of the department’s pumping experts manned the controls, other firefighters dropped a large hose into the pool and started sucking out the water.
Nearby, a floating pump was running on the surface of the pool and the BVFD’s largest and most expensive truck, the $1 million Tower 1, prepared to start showering water on the parched grass.
The steady south wind kept the air all around the pool area filled with a fine, wet mist blowing from the high nozzle on the tower truck.
Morris was brave enough to hazard a guess as to how long it would take the pumpers to drain the pool.
“I think it’ll take a little more than two hours,” he said. But almost an hour later the water level in the pool had dropped about a foot.
At one point, Morris told Chapa that he might have to use the city’s large pump to complete the job Wednesday.
As the huge column of water from Tower 1 drenched the grass, two firefighters used a hose connected to the floating pump to water other parts of the soccer fields.
The firefighters had assembled at the meeting room, upstairs above the C.M. “Smitty” Smith Central Fire Station just before 7 p.m. to get their trucks ready for the training session. By 7:45 they were rolling the big rigs toward the pool.
It took only a few minutes to get set up for the exercise.
With water being a precious commodity in South Texas this time of year, Morris said the training the firefighters received that evening could come in handy.
“We hardly ever use drafting,” Morris said. But as 2014 continues to be a hot dry year, he said one never knows when it might be necessary.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5220, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.