Six fire departments train in practice burn

By Dan Otis Smith | May 07, 2017
Photo by: Dan Otis Smith Firefighters prepare to enter a house they were burning for training May 6.

South Thomaston — A South Thomaston home was burned in training exercises by fire departments from South Thomaston, Cushing, Rockland, Scarborough, St. George and Warren May 6. South Thomaston Ambulance and emergency medical services students from the Mid-Coast School of Technology were also on the scene.

South Thomaston Fire Chief Bryan Calderwood directed the training.

A stretch of Route 73 near the house was open only to a single lane of limited traffic.

The burn started at around 9 a.m. Calderwood said the house, which was donated to the fire department, had been made “airtight,” allowing fires to continue inside the structure, despite frequent rain and overall wet conditions throughout the morning.

“This is vital training for us,” said Calderwood. He said the chance to train with a live fire was rare, and that it took months of preparation on the part of both the department and the homeowner to meet safety standards.

Crews entered the house in stages and spent considerable periods of time inside the burning building while smoke poured from windows and doors and seeped between the roof shingles. Those who entered wore self-contained breathing apparatuses, without which spending much time in the house would have been impossible.

With a crew inside, firefighters outside would then periodically “vent” the fire by lifting boards over the windows to release smoke.

Calderwood said the objective of the training was to give firefighters an opportunity to experience a real fire and observe its behavior under various conditions, but more specifically to train them in the practices of a “rapid intervention team.” The RIT is intended to rescue fellow firefighters who have run into trouble.

Exercises continued throughout the day and into the evening.

Firefighters walk toward a house being burned for training purposes May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
A team of firefighters enters a house burned for training purposes May 6 while others look on. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Firefighters enter a house burned for training purposes May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Firefighters confer during live fire training May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Firefighters wait outside a house being burned for training purposes May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Heavy smoke, fog, spraying hoses and frequent rain sometimes made it difficult to see much of anything during a practice burn in South Thomaston May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Smoke pours out of a house burned for training purposes May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Water sprays out of the second-story window of a house burned for training purposes in South Thomaston May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Firefighters vent a house burned for training purposes May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
A firefighter has an air tank removed after emerging from a house burned for training purposes May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Firetrucks were lined up in front of a house burned for training purposes in South Thomaston May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
Firefighters release water from a firetruck during a practice burn May 6. (Photo by: Dan Otis Smith)
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