The Columbus Fire and Rescue Department conducted a training exercise just before 10 am Tuesday morning. Chief of Training Mark Ward organized the exercise and Battalion Chief Martin Andrews, Captain Todd Graham, Captain Andy Grant, Engineer Richard McBride, and Engineer Billy Clark supervised Firefighters Tyler Lofton, Brian Benson, and Trainee Shane Darrell. They set ablaze a condemned house on Oak St on the south side of Main St. The fire was set in a coat closet off the front room and spread quickly across the front of the structure. Battalion Chief Martin Andrews used a propane fueled blow torch to start the fire.
Columbus Light & Water Department removed a power line that ran too close to the house during the exercise. They were on scene during the exercise in case anything went awry. After the exercise they replaced the power line.
Firemen spend six weeks at the state training facility in Jackson training daily in a five story building. There is no training facility in Columbus so the firemen use condemned houses as training exercises so all of the crew can stay sharp. Not all condemned homes are destroyed by fire. Columbus Fire and Rescue have to consider the safety of surrounding homes before orchestrating a controlled burn.
Saturday the firemen ran search pattern drills in the house with blacked out face masks to simulate the darkness caused by heavy smoke.0
The firemen were searching for a dummy hidden in the house. The air near the floor is cooler and cleaner so firemen are trained to crawl on their knees and feel around with their hands to avoid obstacles.
A fireman’s hose produces over 120psi with a flow of 90 gallons per minute. Without the “water-wall” the fire in the house would make the area within 30 feet too hot to bear. Engineer Andy Grant who has seen his fair share of fires said “it would be so hot it would melt your camera lens”. Inside the home temperatures can reach 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. The water-wall was a hose with a certain attachment to the end that fanned out the water, creating a wall of water twenty feet in the air.
With the house fully enveloped in fire, the firemen were manning 3 hoses in addition to the water-wall. At several instances during the training session fireman had to stop watering for fear that they would put it out prematurely.