Tiger Dams focus of Banff Fire training
Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 06:00 am
On the same evening the town of Claresholm was declaring a state of emergency due to overland flooding last week, Banff Fire Department was holding a training session with specialty flood-fighting equipment.
On Tuesday (June 17), Chief Silvio Adamo and his firefighters were at the Rocky Mountain Housing Coop to practice deployment of recently received Tiger Dams which could be used as a barrier against future rising waters.
Tiger Dams are one-metre diameter vinyl tubes that can be placed and filled with water to act as flood barriers. Each dam is about 15 metres long and Banff Fire procured 50 of them with $200,000 in Provincial Flood Mitigation Grant funds. The funds covered the dams themselves and accompanying equipment.
The dams can be joined end to end to provide an extended barrier and the department has enough that the coop, the only area evacuated in the 2013 flood, could be encircled.
“They can be deployed anywhere,” said Adamo, “but the premise was to be able to protect this facility (the coop). Town engineering and GIS were used to map out the area and work out the length and number of dams we’d need.”
Up to 400 people call the coop home and last year water from the Bow River filled the parking lots near the coop and threatened to reach the buildings themselves.
Tiger Dams are portable and can be filled, drained and re-used as needed, with 11,000 litres of water (13,600 kilograms). Prior to filling, straps with D-rings are placed under the tubes every two metres and, after they have been filled, are staked down with half-metre corkscrews. Tiger Dams can be placed singly, or, used in threes, can be stacked to be about twice the depth.
For the fire department’s practice, said Adamo, filling, done from a hydrant near the coop, was timed to figure out filling time and how much lead time would be needed to place them in preparation for advancing waters.
“They are manpower intensive,” he said, “but they can replace sandbags and can be moved if needed. In the case of wildland fire situations, they can also be filled and used as a reservoir to fight a fire. They can be filled from hydrants, from pumper trucks or from ponds, creeks or rivers with pumps.”
Once laid out and prepared by the firefighters and using a 2.5-inch line from the hydrant, it took 12 minutes to fill the two Tiger Dams in use for the practice session.
Tiger Dams have been used in Manitoba during Red River flood events and were used last year in Calgary in hard-hit neighbourhoods like Roxboro. Each dam weighs 63 kilos dry and rolled up.