There’s one thing for certain in the fire service, firefighters can never receive too much training and can never be over prepared for any situation.
Thanks to a homeowner with a condemned house, firefighters in Erwin, Buies Creek and Coats, as well as several men and women in training to become firefighters, got some valuable experience in a practice burn Saturday. A condemned home on Tobacco Barn Lane was set ablaze to give the firefighters some practice in fighting fires.
Erwin Fire Department Lt. Will Gregory said the controlled burn was the last step in a four-month process.
“Back in October the homeowner came to us asked us to burn it,” Gregory said. “So we started the process in October, and finally, in December, we got all the state guidelines and paperwork approved.”
It was “very good training” for the approximately 40 firefighters who participated Saturday, Gregory said.
“We used it for hose handling and nozzle training and fire attack skills,” he added. “It was actually some great training. It’s hard with all the state guidelines and things, for us to actually burn a house. It all fell into place and actually worked out well.”
Gregory said the training firefighters can muster from a controlled burn is as valuable as any skills they can be taught in a classroom or in a simulation drill.
Beyond going into a house on a call that is on fire, training such as Saturday’s gives firemen the extra skill training and confidence to do the job when the time comes.
“We’re firemen; we put houses out,” Gregory said. “It’s nice to have one under a controlled environment that you can actually learn from and learn the skills in hose handling and nozzle control and all that, so when you have a real life situation your training comes alive. You get to perform your skills and all that. It balances out both ways.”
One of the biggest lessons made available was the ability to see first hand how a fire develops throughout a structure.
“We actually went in there and were able to show the different stages of fire development,” he said. “It’s what they would actually learn in training for the firefighter 1 and 2 certification. They also learned teamwork and communication.”
In addition to handling fires from the outside, firemen also got an opportunity to enter the house while flames were present.
“The house held up well for us,” he said. “We actually got to go in there about 25 times. Unless we get a call, they don’t get to train like that very often. If you can train prior to getting a call that’s great. Everybody gets to see their abilities and skill levels.”
In addition to the firefighters from the three departments, there were trainees — those studying firefighting at various academies and schools throughout the Harnett, Johnston and Sampson county areas — who were able to see firsthand where their career path would lead them. While they couldn’t enter the building at any time because of state regulations, they were able to get valuable lessons in fire suppression and the use of hoses and nozzles from the exterior of the building.
“They were all exterior helpers, like pulling hoses,” he said. “When we actually got to burn the house down, they got on a hose line and sprayed some water. Until they meet the state guidelines for training, they can’t go interior.”
Gregory said the trainees get the chance to see how a fire scene is conducted and what it takes to be among the men and women who actually put their lives on the line for the protection of property and people.
“They get to see it,” he said. “They also get to understand how to pull hoses and spray the water, so it was a good experience for them as well.”
Rick Curl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2037.