Area volunteer firefighters complete live training burn in Spearfish

SPEARFISH, S.D. — Saturday’s rain did not halt plans for a live training burn in Spearfish.

Several area volunteer firefighters stepped inside a burning structure to complete the hands-on portion of the State’s Firefighter Certification Program.

For some, it was their very first time.

“It’s the first time they have been inside a building that has fire in it,” said Adam Ziegler, an Instructor and Batallion Chief. “Some of them may have been on a fire in the past but just on the exterior of the building helping with setting up engines, pulling hose that sort of stuff, so this is the first time they’ve actually had an airpack on and they’re inside a burning building.”

It’s where theory meets a real-life scenario.

Nine firefighters Saturday completed the last step in a new career path, a controlled burn training event. A home near the intersection of Evans and Apple Valley Lanes, that had irreparable damage from a previous fire, was donated for the cause.

Spearfish Assistant Chief Robert Mathis says live fires are a good practice for all tiers of firefighting.

“The state has a requirement for new firefighters that they must have a live fire exercise, so this is a meeting that they need as well as meeting the needs of retraining or getting some practice for our senior guys,” Mathis said.

Not including hazardous materials, approximately 150 hours of classroom training are needed for the State’s Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 class.

Despite the amount of time dedicated to learning about fires and their fast progression, being able to experience one firsthand and feeling that heat so close in proximity, is a distinct feeling.

“It’s one thing to have a fire in your backyard,” said Firefighter Melissa Pappas. “Everybody’s had a fire before but when you see it after you’ve learned so much about the behavior and what it does in a house, it’s a totally different world.”

Spearfish’s Fire Department tries to do structure fires at least once a year depending on whether they can get a structure. If one isn’t available, the training center at Ellsworth Air Force Base is occasionally used.

For recent grads and those seeking a career in fighting fires, Senior Firefighter Tanner Tadra says the key to mastering the craft is to keep at it.

“It’s very easy to be ‘alright I got it and I’m done’,” said Tadra. “My advice would be to respond to calls when you can and go to trainings when you can.”

The site will continue smoldering with supervision from the Spearfish Fire Department for the next 24-48 hours.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News