Local firefighters burn donated house for training

By on July 11, 2014

After using a donated house to train in for about a year, firefighters from Elburn and Countryside, Kaneville and Big Rock trained with live fire before burning the house to the ground on June 28.

“We’ve been training in the house for well over a year,” said Elburn and Countryside Assistant Fire Chief Tate Haley. “We’ve done search and rescue, ventilation and learning how to work a hose through the house.”

During the final training exercise, Tate said they set small fires inside the house, in various rooms, until it was no longer safe, and then just allowed the house and garage to burn to the ground. The exercise originally was scheduled for last fall, but concern for the dry crops in the adjoining farm field postponed the event.

513 Haley said his department invited the other area departments for the experience. Sugar Grove firefighters planned to join the final exercise until a death took precedence, and they bowed out.

With the exception of being called to the scene, Saturday’s training exercise, primarily for new recruits, was treated as a real fire call. Several of the more experienced firefighters were on the scene as early as 6 a.m. boarding up the windows in the house after placing wooden pallets and hay bales inside to burn.

“The pallets feed the fire and the hay creates a lot of smoke,” said Kaneville firefighter Harry Meyer as smoke wafted from cracks around the plywood covering the windows.

Recruit Jameson “Sonny” Horn has completed the fire training academy, but he said this was his first live fire in a house. The 19-year-old from Sugar Grove, an Elburn and Countryside recruit, intends to be a professional firefighter.

“Training is going well,” Horn said as he geared up for his first turn in the house. “But you’re always just a little nervous going into a fire.”
Kaneville recruit Steve Shaulis admitted he, too, was a little nervous, but “it was kinda cool.”

Joe Miller, another Elburn-Countryside recruit, was in rehab even though he hadn’t been in the house.

“Rehab is a safety check,” said Jim Werner, an Elburn and Countryside firefighter-paramedic. “We hydrate and check vitals, and make them stay here until their vitals come back to normal.

“We’ll sweat a bit today,” Werner said of his colleagues wearing about 50 pounds of turnout gear. “We just want to make sure we’re not burning out our people, for lack of a better term.”

Photos by Patti Wilk