Live Fire Training Offers New Firefighters an Invaluable Experience

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It's the type of opportunity the Grand Island Fire Department says it only gets three to four times a year: live fire training.

"A training like this is invaluable. Anytime we can get real-life fire training in a live structure like this. It's an actual house so it behaves just like our other structural fires," said fire training division chief Tim Hiemer.

A local church wanted to demolish a house they own at the corner of Eighth and Oak streets and offered to let GIFD burn it down. They used it to teach two of their newest firefighters what couldn't be taught in the classroom.

"Until they can get out in the field and actually see it, feel it, it's really hard to understand the power of fire. And this gives them a lot better understanding of how a fire grows and how to best put it out," Hiemer said.

Probationary firefighter Michael Spreng said the training taught him "how fire reacts, how the different types of ventilation affects the smoke and working as team."

Hiemer took full advantage of the opportunity, divising various scenarios to maximize hands-on training.

"[It] gives our captain that's with us an opportunity to get in there and really educate us, instead of just telling us where to go and what to do. He's telling us this is why this is happening, this is what we need to do to accomplish our goal," said probationary firefighter Dan Goeke.

Hiemer said that the most important part is allowing rookies a chance to gain confidence and trust in themselves and their fellow firefighters. And the controlled, live trainings also serve to inspire future generations of public service people like David Romero. The 10-year-old woke up bright and early to make sure he saw the training, which he said helped affirm his desire to work in public safety.

"You keep people safe and you rescue people," Romero said.