The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Fire fighters gain inside experience at practice burn


February 11, 2021

Diana Zimmerman

Smoke rose from the old Schubert home in the Elochoman Valley, as volunteer firefighters took turns entering the building to train, and to also get a feel for the atmosphere of a house on fire.

Last Saturday, volunteers from the Cathlamet Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, Skamokawa Fire Department, and Puget Island Fire Department spent the day training at a practice burn hosted by the District 4 Fire Department at the old Schubert home on Elochoman Valley Road.

The home, which had been evacuated after being threatened by landslides, was donated by Hancock Forest Industries for the training, District 4 Chief Randy Hoven said.

"Periodically we get houses like this," Incident Commander and Instructor in Charge Tom Merz said. "They might be condemned, or somebody buys a piece of property and they want the house gone. The easiest and best way to do that is to talk to the fire department about doing a training burn."

It's a win/win for all involved. A problem is solved for the homeowner, and local firefighters get a live fire training exercise.

Diana Zimmerman

Several local fire departments attended the training in the Elochoman Valley on Saturday.

"We have limited opportunities to give people interior firefighting experience," Merz said. "Typically, if a department gets a house like this, they invite everyone to train, and a lot of planning goes into the exercise."

Inside the home, an interior team was looking to create a certain level of fire development, and the firefighters, following several safety measures, including a rule of two in, two out, would enter the building and extinguish the fire.

"We have a lot of newer people," Merz said. "It's really hot in there, there's very low visibility and it's getting their senses familiar with that. The first time you go into a burn room, it can be overwhelming. It's a good opportunity for people to find out if this is something they want to continue to do."

"We hope we never have to do it for real, but if we do, we want to be as efficient as possible," he added.


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