Fire departments holds controlled home-burn training - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fire departments holds controlled home-burn training

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

There was no need to worry for those that saw a big ball of black smoke this afternoon in Iowa City.

From the early morning on Tuesday to the late afternoon, the Iowa City Fire Department held a controlled burn training on the northeast side of town.

Smoke turned into flames as windows busted open under the pressure of the heat in the 2000 block of North Dubuque Road. It was a rare home-burn training opportunity that was the practice field for firefighters. It was the first time the Iowa City department held a live home-burn in more than five years.

"The location lent itself for an acquired burn, structured burn. Most buildings that we get in Iowa City are close to other buildings. This is on top of a hill, out from away from everything, right across the street from Station 4," Brandon Smith, ICFD Lieutenant/Training Officer, said.

The property where the home sat was bought by ACT in Iowa City and the home was to be demolished for development.

Smith said much of the department's training happens in a burn tower which has the same look inside every time they use it. A home gives the firefighters experience handling multiple rooms and an unknown layout.

"Getting an acquired structure to burn in and to train in, is very valuable for our newer firefighters and newer officers because we don't see as many fires anymore when we're out on the streets and that's a good thing but we have to find other means to train," Smith said.

Before firefighters set the home on fire to burn it down, they practiced battling fires from the inside.

"We did several different burns in the upstairs. We also practiced search and rescue on the first floor," Smith said.

Once the home became engulfed, firefighters added to their practice with real-life action when nearby brush also caught on fire.

"We had some spot fires today. Part of that is the wind today. There was a little bit of wind that kicked up a little bit more and it was when the house was actually burning at its fullest before it came down," Smith said.

Smith said the spot fires didn't create any property damage. He also said the department sees less fires in general because of public education and awareness.

The Coralville Fire Department joined Iowa City on the burn. Johnson County Medical Services were also on hand, as well as the Salvation Army, which helped the fire department stay hydrated and fed throughout the day.

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