Firemen gain valuable experience during practice burn in Champion
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
The dense smoke. The searing heat. The adrenaline rush.
When it comes to training firemen for interior attacks, nothing can replace the experience gained in actual fire situations.
Firemen from Imperial, Lamar and Wauneta participated in a practice house burn Saturday in Champion.
They gained a wide range of experiences from knocking down fire inside a bedroom in the house to drafting water out of portable tanks to keeping fire lines filled.
Imperial Fire Chief Nick Schultz said it’s been several years since they’ve had a house where they could practice interior attacks.
The small home, located just north of the Champion Community Center, is owned by Tinker Raasch.
Schultz said they’ve been planning the practice burn for several months after receiving permission from Raasch to burn the house down.
Preparation for the burn included taking out all of the glass, removing the pressure tank and hot water heater from the basement and knocking down the chimney on the roof.
Schultz said they used pallets and hay bales to create the fire in a bedroom of the home.
Firemen were able to experience how a fire grows and spreads before knocking it down.
The firemen practiced using a straight stream of water to break out a window and ventilate the room of smoke and steam.
A hinged plywood panel was put over the window and opened to simulate breaking the glass of the window.
Schultz said training officers Aaron Greene, Kelsey Weiss and Greg Dannatt guided firemen through nearly 20 interior attacks.
Once that training was complete, the house was set on fire and allowed to burn down.
Since the training exercise was held in Champion, which has no fire hydrant system, firemen shuttled water from Imperial and from an irrigation well southwest of Champion .
The water was stored on site in portable tanks that hold from 2,000 to 2,500 gallons. Pumper units drafted water out of the portable tanks to keep fire lines charged.
Schultz said they used tankers from Imperial, Lamar and Wauneta to bring water to the site. The tankers can carry between 2,000 and 3,000 gallons of water.
By using the portable arrangement, firemen gained valuable experience on managing a water supply when no hydrants are available, Schultz said.
He noted there is a “dry hydrant” near Champion Lake. It has a pipe that runs into the lake so a tanker could attach to the hydrant and suck water out of the lake.
However, with the renovations at the lake, Schultz suspected the pipe may no longer be in the water.