City of Burlington firefighters attack the flames during a training exercise in an abandoned house at 560 Smith St. on April 28. The controlled burn offered a variety of training opportunities for the fire department. (Photo by Chad Hensiak)

Live training exercise proves valuable for firefighters

By Dan Truttschel


There’s a never-ending cycle of training that goes into being a firefighter.

But the chance to hone their skills in as close to a real life situation as possible rarely presents itself.

Until last week, that is, when dozens of members from the City of Burlington Fire Department were on hand to take full advantage.

In what was a couple months in the making, the department burned down an abandoned single-family home at 560 Smith St. on April 28, but not before there were valuable teaching moments everywhere.

The department reviewed the exercise at its meeting Monday night, said Assistant Chief Eric Jones, who organized the training. Before the actual burning of the house last week, Jones said the residence was used for some interior training as well.

“We got some excellent training out of it, some exposure to drills that we can only simulate,” he said. “Live fire is obviously a big part of it. We also had some ventilation training that was involved with it as well. When you actually look at the whole scope of what you’re exposed to in a training like that, (what you can learn) is almost endless.”

The home, which sustained significant damage in last summer’s flood, was less than 1,000 square feet, Jones said. The training began in the back of the home, and the 35 to 40 firefighters on hand started there and worked their way to the front.

Rare, but valuable

Jones said last week’s live burn was only the second one he’s participated in as a member of the department, as finding a structure like the one on Smith Street doesn’t happen often.

But when the possibility to train in one does present itself, the department is more than interested to make that happen, he said.

“These acquired structures don’t come around very often,” he said. “It’s a good training tool that we have. We’ll take them whenever we can get them, but it doesn’t happen very often.”

As for the benefits? Jones said from the greenest rookie to the most experienced veteran, there was something everyone could learn.

And that was the point of the drill from the start – to learn, with the hope those lessons can be used in a real-life situation.

To read the full story pick up a copy of the May 10 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.