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Public safety forum heeds advice of Bastrop fire responders

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TWC News: Public safety forum heeds advice of Bastrop fire responders
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911 dispatchers play a vital role in fighting fires. They’re often stoic, calmly delivering important information.

Tuesday marked the start of a three-day Public Safety Symposium. The additional training, hosted by Williamson County Emergency Services, highlights the work of telecommunicators, a role which was crucial in battling the historic Bastrop wildfires.

"At the end of a year we are really very pleased with where we are," Bastrop County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Fisher said.

Fisher spoke about the role of the dispatchers during the complex fire. The blaze showed the importance of allowing different agencies to communicate seamlessly.

"I think we were headed in the right direction already, but I think the coordination and the interoperability--the ability to support one another in the region--just gets better and better," Williamson County Emergency Communications Gene Smith said.

The historic fire claimed two lives, destroyed close to 1,700 homes and charred 34,000 acres. The blaze stretched the resources of the region. Nearly a year later, the rebuilding continues and steps are being taken to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"We have entered into contractual agreements with 700 property owners to go in and trim trees that may fall onto their homes, their neighbor's homes or a barn or a driveway. We have cut down about 140,000 pine trees,” Fisher said.

Attendees hope to learn valuable lessons from a fire that will continue to have an impact on the region for decades.

The symposium runs until Friday and is open to personnel across the region. This is the second year Williamson County has hosted this event.

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