Central Wisconsin Fire Agencies Complete Live Fire Training with Donated House

Pittsville Fire Company

(OnFocus) Eight fire agencies in Central Wisconsin took part in a live fire evolution training Monday night.

The participating agencies on Dec. 2 included Pittsville, Lincoln, McMillan, Rudolph, Vesper, Hewitt, Richfield, and Arpin.

For months the Pittsville, Vesper, and Arpin fire departments used an old farmhouse to perform many hours of valuable training. Donated by Kevin Horn of Town of Hansen, the house was a good candidate for the final training scenario involving a live burn where fire attack, ventilation, and search and rescue were all practiced.

Firefighters approached the training scenario with various objectives to accomplish throughout the night, such as a type of rescue, and were able to accomplish most of them.

A fire is one of the best training scenarios for a fire department and is beneficial for all members regardless of experience. “It’s very intense stuff, and you can’t simulate it,” said Jerry Minor, Pittsville Fire Chief. “I’ve been doing it for 41 years and there’s still stuff that you learn.”

Firefighters also tested out Milwaukee tools courtesy of Hiller’s Hardware. Battery-powered tools are being looked into more in the firefighting field as an alternative to gas.

“If you have a fire that you suspect might be set, if we’re using gas-powered equipment we can contaminate a scene,” said Minor. “We have to be very careful about where we put gas-powered fans and generators. If we leave a residue we pretty much destroy our case when we’re looking for contaminants in the building.”

As the nation faces a volunteer firefighter shortage, the training is an example of how fire agencies work together more than ever.

“We do more now jointly than we’ve ever done in a 100 years because we need our neighbors as well as they need us,” said Minor. “The need to have all your neighbors trained the same way is an enormous issue. Plus you’re always working together on real incidents, so why not train together?

“A good friend of mine years ago used to say, we all have the same different departments. Doesn’t matter if you’re paid or volunteer, the house burns the same way, so how we respond to it has to be the same.”

Monday’s training began at 6:30 p.m. and wrapped up around midnight, the volunteer firefighters ending the long day by returning to their stations to clean apparatus and equipment.