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Responding to calls on the I-90, firefighters face life-threaten - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Responding to calls on the I-90, firefighters face life-threatening risks

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BOZEMAN - It’s no secret that being a first responder is a dangerous job.

Bozeman firefighters do everything they can to keep the city safe, especially when we have bad weather which brings calls that firemen now fear more than going into burning buildings.

The firefighters start every day by cleaning the fire trucks and checking all of the equipment. After this, they must complete all different types of training, whether it’s online or live action.

If they’re not cleaning the trucks or getting training done, the firemen are responding to calls. But one of these calls is much more dangerous than the rest.

 "So the interstate is one the scariest things we do. We have very little control of what people are doing coming through there and we only have a short period of time, so it's how do we manage that," said Captain Travis Barton.

Barton told MTN News that he is more afraid of going to an accident on the interstate then he is going into a burning home because many cars don't slow down around accident scenes -- especially semi trucks.

"There’s a lot of them and it takes a while to slow down, and they don’t always want to slow down," Barton said.

This problem is something that happens across the nation. Earlier this month an FBI agent and a deputy fire chief marshall were killed while working an accident on the interstate in Maryland.

To avoid a tragedy like this in Bozeman, firefighters have a system to try to get cars to slow down.

"So we're a mile-and-a-half back with the battalion chief rig, and then we use our bigger engines to protect the scene, so we angle them. If a car were to come in and hit it, everybody downstream of that would be safe," Barton explained.

"Then we use flares to try and slow traffic and move it into the rumble strip, the small shoulder on the median side, or off onto the shoulder onto the right-hand side. It’s all about making them slow down," he added.

Montana state law dictates that drivers must slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit and move into the far lane when they come across an accident scene. Following the law could save someone’s life.

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