Eastern Iowa firefighters train by burning down house - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa firefighters train by burning down house


A home in the 2900 block of Jordan's Grove Road in Marion is in ruins following a Sunday morning fire.  But the blaze was set on purpose by the Marion Fire Department.  This real-life setting is an important training exercise for firefighters.

Smoke billowed from a century-old home in rural Marion Sunday morning.  Dozens of fire crews from across eastern Iowa gathered at the house to take turns entering the building, fighting off flames intentionally set by the Marion Fire Department as a way to train less experienced firefighters.

"We don't have a lot of fires, or at least not as many as we used to.  And so a lot of these people are on a department for a year, two, maybe 5 years, and they don't actually get inside a burning building," said Marion Fire Chief Doug Wyman.  "So it's a great experience for all of them to get inside and see what it's like inside an actual fire."

Another benefit of the training exercise was bringing together multiple fire departments from across the region.  Those crews often respond for mutual aid during large fires.

"We have to not only be able to work with them in a fire scene, we have to know how much water they can carry, how fast they can get it to us, those types of things," said Chief Wyman.

Sunday's wind, rain, and cold temperatures also made for a realistic firefighting experience.  New recruits like Dan Lough say the hands-on practice is what makes sure he and fellow firefighters are well prepared for real structure fires.

"There's only so much practice you can do without a fire in front of you.  You can only do so many times of running a nozzle to an imaginary fire and what not.  But having the actual fire in front of you to put out is a great experience to practice and understand that," Lough said.

And after the drill is over, fire crews review their performance to see what they can do better for the next time an actual fire all comes in.

The Marion Fire Department tries to host a hands-on training fire burn like the one Sunday about once a year.  Properties are typically donated to the department and are demolished following the training exercise.

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