Training Event Goes Up In Smoke, Just as Intended

Photo by Sky Chappell – EMT Firefighter Ryan Lindsey and Volunteer Firefighter Tyson Rust evaluate the structure at the burn-to-learn.

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District (SHFAD) held a burn-to-learn event on Saturday, March 16, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 3204 Main St., located directly next to Cascade Timber Consulting (CTC).

The dilapidated structure was owned by CTC, who needed to get rid of it, and allowed it to be used by the fire department for training.

For the past four to five months, the SHFAD has used this location to hone in on various skills. They used this building to practice roof operations, search and rescue training, and drills such as vertical ventilation.

“We can do that stuff on props, but it’s just better to get a piece of property that they’ve never seen before,” Battalion Chief Eli Harris said.

Unlike the rest of the crew, there were four relatively new firefighters who had attended only one other burn-to-learn since they finished in the academy.

Every Thursday, the SHFAD has a drill night, varying from EMS rescue to fire-related drills. They also have three to four on-shift training sessions a month. The burn-to-learn events, however, are more opportunistic.

Along with the immense amount of prep and planning that must be done, the fire department doesn’t always have a building which they can use. Although Harris mentioned the fact that he’s had up to four in a year before, the last burn-to-learn was at the start of last summer, over nine months ago.

“The training went well,” Harris said. “They got that fresh application of wildfire training in an existing structure that you just can’t recreate any other way, and it’s invaluable to these guys. It burnt pretty clean and went exactly the way we wanted it to.”