Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hillsboro Home Goes Up in Smoke For Training

Hillsboro Fire & Rescue made good use of a donated century-old house on SE 18th Avenue on Sunday to train our firefighters.  The "burn-to-learn" training session involved setting a fire in a room and allowing it to reach a certain size before sending in rookie firefighters and volunteers inside for some hands-on experience with live fire in a controlled setting.  They rotated through the homes many rooms to ensure the maximum usage of the structure.

Prior to the exercise, fire trainers had ensured any asbestos, water tanks or other hazardous items had been removed.  The training staff prepared a training action plan that included not only the rotation of firefighters through each task, but also contingency plans for interrupted water supply, equipment failure or an on-scene injury. 

In this photo, you can see the Safety Officer monitoring a crew in an adjoining room.  Notice the smoke level is down to the Safety Officer's waist level.  And, this was in a room with an open door where I was located.  In a closed home, smoke levels will go nearly to the floor and are extremely black and deadly.

After all training evolutions are completed, the final fire is set and the home is allowed to burn to the ground in a controlled manner. 

Flames leap from windows and doors as the old house is consumed.

Firefighters surround the building and wet down the walls they want to preserve as long as possible.  This controls the direction of the final heat and helps preserve the trees that were located close to the home.

Additionally, one firefighter used the deck gun mounted on top of a fire engine to help control the blaze's intensity, reduce ember production and protect nearby trees. 

The home's owners are removing the structure to make way for a new residence.  The burn-to-learn is a win-win for the owners and Hillsboro Fire & Rescue.  They have the old structure removed with little materials going to the landfill and Hillsboro firefighters get some priceless training in real world conditions. 

We appreciate the neighbor's understanding and cooperation.  More that 75 people turned out to watch the home go up in smoke.  For fire and life safety information, visit

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