Firefighters get a chance to sharpen their skills in a controlled burning Saturday

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Illinois Wesleyan University allowed the Bloomington Fire Department to use one of its old buildings for a live fire training.

Carl Reeb says, “This building is an old dormitory, and both Bloomington and Normal have colleges so this is very applicable. This is just, I don’t want to say once in a lifetime, but buildings like this just don’t come along very often.”

With the building made of cement, it meets the E.P.A. Regulations to allow the firefighters to train, without the worry of pollutants going into the air, or the fire getting out of control.

Chief Mick Humer says, “Today’s new buildings are all drywall and wood construction. That type of thing. Obviously fire extension to the roof and all that would be a problem. Where with a building like this, we can burn for hours and hours and leave here at the end of the night know that nothings going to get away from us.”

Due to limited spaces suitable for training, local firefighters are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Jim Vaughn says, “It’s extremely rare for a particular town to get lots of opportunities for live fire training. It’s usually spread out throughout the state. For the Bloomington Normal area to have a building of this size and this construction to be able to burn in, is a very good opportunity.”

With the spontaneity of the job, a firefighter may never know when they will have to use those skills, but they always want to be ready on a moment’s notice.

Chief Humer says, “If we were ever to get a fire in a large dormitory building, or a high rise building, we would rely on them for mutual aid. Even if they are from a small community, a half hour from now they could be in Waterson Tower trying to rescue people.”

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