(SERGEANT BLUFF, IA) - Sergeant Bluff firefighters got hands-on training Thursday night before homeowners knock down a more than 150-year-old home. Firefighters trained as if there was a real fire inside the home.A family bought the old house last summer with plans to demolish it and build a new home. They decided to offer the all-volunteer fire department a chance to use it for training and those 36 firefighters said, yes.
You don't see firefighters spraying a hose on an empty fireplace everyday. It's all part of the training for the Sergeant Bluff Fire Department. Training that wouldn't have come along without the help of a neighbor. "They don't have a house and we thought, what the heck! We don't have anything to lose," said homeowner Sonja Radican.
The department doesn't have anything to lose either. Firefighters said they can always use the training. "Anytime that we can get hands on training, we can show our department members more than a video and more than just a prop, we can use a house to actually do the training we may be required to do on a scene, it's going to benefit us," said Sergeant Bluff Fire Chief Anthony Gaul. Fake smoke poured into the house, simulating a fire coming from the fireplace. "We want our members to have some prior knowledge when they get to a scene," said Chief Gaul. Another part of the training is to breach windows. Firefighters actually broke the windows to get the fake smoke out of the house.
"It makes me feel like I am giving them the chance to continue on and persevere and do better," said Radican. "Some people describe firefighters as overgrown kids and this is our time. It's not play time. It's serious time that we need, but it's a great opportunity," said Chief Gaul.
Sonja and her family will have the house knocked down this weekend. They'll be replacing it with a three-bedroom ranch-style house and a two-car garage. They're keeping the trees around the property.