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The Suburbanite
  • Firefighters participate in unique training exercise

  • Six area fire departments gathered over the weekend  to participate in an increasingly rare training exercise – a live burn of a house.

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  • Six area fire departments gathered behind the New Franklin Fire department, 5605 Manchester Road, May 4 to participate in an increasingly rare training exercise – a live burn of a house.
    The significant cost to homeowners to obtain Environmental Protection Agency permitting related to issues such as asbestos removal has made finding structures for live-burn training more difficult in recent years, New Franklin Fire Chief Steve Leslie said.
    “This has been in the planning stages since February and the last time we did one was in 2003,” said Leslie. “EPA regulations have greatly impacted our ability to do these. We are fortunate that this house is on city property, so the city was able to pay for that.”
    The training session included 64 personnel from the New Franklin, Clinton, Coventry, Barberton, Lawrence Township and Canal Fulton departments. Kody Decosta, 18, and Josh Newton, 17, are members of the Canal Fulton FD’s Northwest Fire Explorers.
    “I am excited about the live fire experience and we will both get some hose time,” said Decosta, who is completing his EMT course at Stark State this month with plans to attend fire school after graduation.
    Newton is currently in fire school at Stark State.
    “This (live burn) training is optional, but it helps to see if you like it,” he said.
    The training is also recorded as part of each department’s 16 continuing education hours required each year to maintain state certification, Leslie said.
    “The idea is to have our new and part-time hires participate,” he said. “The whole goal is interior operations, which is our primary job – you can’t put the fire out if you don’t go into the building.”
    The phases of the training had the participants entering a single room and extinguishing content fires. At the end of the training, the entire building was set ablaze.
    “The key for us is early detection – with smoke detectors being the first line of defense in getting everyone out of the building,” Leslie said as the firefighters doused surrounding trees on the property and watched the split-level home begin to crumble under a blanket of black smoke and orange flame.
    “We try to save as much of the building as we can,” he said. “But when it is this far along, this is just what we would be doing.”