Editor’s Note: This is part one of a three-part series on the Village of Corrales’ unique — but effective — fire suppression system. See Part Two Saturday and Part Three Sunday.


Have you ever wondered how Corrales — a village without its own water department and in the middle of an extreme drought, regardless of the recent rains — manages to fight fires?

Where does the water come from? How is it transported?

Corrales Fire Chief Anthony Martinez

Think back to what you know about an old-fashioned bucket brigade and you’ll begin to understand what Corrales Fire Chief Anthony Martinez calls a “diesel-powered bucket brigade.”

The village has three tanker trucks that carry anywhere between 1,800 to 2,000 gallons of water. Additionally, scattered across the village are drop tanks with pumping stations where water is stored and easily accessed. In the event of a fire, those three tanker trucks are in constant motion.

Just as those old-fashioned bucket brigades were in constant motion, so too is the “diesel-powered bucket brigade:” One truck is filling with water, while another is spraying water on the fire, and the last one is in transit, either to the fire itself or to the drop tank.

For those from more urban areas, accustomed to fire trucks simply hooking up to hydrants, the process may sound a bit unusual, but it works.

And it works well. So well, in fact, the State Fire Marshal’s Office has been pushing the Corrales system as a model, and fire departments further north want to meet with Martinez and see the system first-hand.

Prior to having the brigade system in place, the village had only one tank at Village Hall, and the department resorted to using water from swimming pools and ditches to fight fires.

Every year or so the Village makes improvements to the system. This year, Martinez has been working to identify areas needing additional water tanks, and putting fire hydrants closer to homes.

There are now fire hydrants on the east side of Loma Larga from Ella to Angel Road.

“We’ve invested a lot into Loma Larga….” Martinez said. “[There are] hydrants every crossroad, or 500 to 1,000 feet. We put T’s in our lines for future expansion, running laterally.”

To expand the existing system on Loma Larga, the village hopes to install a tank and pumping station on Angel Hill, which is quite steep, and would enable the pumping station to utilize gravity.

Or as Fahey put it, “If Angel Hill were a ski slope, it would be a Black Diamond trail.”

Plans for future expansion also include construction of an interior drain to run from the bosque by Andrews Bridge to East Valverde and will help protect approximately 350 homes in the area.

(Garrison—this seems like a good place to end this portion of the story, then continue with the next portion focusing on the cost.)