Rookie firefighters get chance to train in Hiawatha - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rookie firefighters get chance to train during live fire practice in Hiawatha

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HIAWATHA (KWWL) -

Before this weekend, Nick Streng had never faced a big fire He's one of nine new members of the Hiawatha Fire Department.

"I never was able to join the military," said Streng. "This is a way I felt that I could give back to the community and also serve a purpose."

The department spent the weekend training at a home in the city. They set fires and practiced putting them out in a setting as close to the real thing as they can get.

"When we're in a training building they're usually made out of concrete," said Mike Nesslage, Hiawatha Fire Chief. "They're made out of steel. We're using LP gas and straw. The fires just aren't as realistic as what we can do when we're in a real house with real closets and real hallways."

The home is one of three that a developer donated to the fire department on the condition they burn them down after setting the practice fires. The fire department was glad to have the space, especially to train one of the largest recruiting classes the department's ever had.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for them to get in and feel some heat and some smoke," said Nesslage.

"I was surprised by how intense it was," said Streng. "I was also very happy I had on my PPE gear because I was able to withstand the heat at the same time knowing that it was pretty intense."

Streng hopes that this weekend has prepared him to face his first big call.

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