BROCKWAY — On Saturday, part of Route 28 heading out of Brockway will be down to one lane as the Brockway Volunteer Fire Department joins many others in the Tri-County area for a fire training.
An old house along Route 28 will be used for an all-day training. The proximity of the structure to Route 28 is why one lane will be shut down from about 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Sugar Hill Road to the Brockway Orient Club.
Brockway Fire Chief Mike Hoskavich says house fire trainings like this are vital to firefighter experience.
“We don’t have house fires like we used to,” he said. “That’s a good thing. Fire safety training and technology have made things safer. You don’t see overloaded outlets like you used to. But that’s why these classes are vital, because younger firefighters don’t see a lot of house fires. This way, they can train.”
Fire departments are connecting with owners of older houses that need to be demolished to give their young fire fighters experience of working inside a home during a fire. Hoskavich said that ignition teams, observed by as many as eight instructors and experts, will light pallets and straw. They light the fires in those pallets and let them build. The straw helps create smoke. The ignition teams stay nearby, making sure the fire doesn’t get out of control.
The controlled environment is another learning opportunity for students.
“Students get to watch the fire build,” Hoskavich said. “That’s something you need, understanding the animal. You can see how it burns, watch its patterns, and see how it spreads. It’s a good learning experience.”
The departments hope to be able to do multiple trainings on the house before it collapses in on itself. Hoskavich said there are six groups in the training, and they hope to be able to do two fires apiece.
“We’ll do the upstairs first,” he said. “Then we’ll move downstairs. We should be able to do 12 burns before the burndown phase. We’ll have an excavator on site for that.”
The fire is the culmination of a 16-hour class. Many of those hours have already been completed, covering many of the fundamentals. On Saturday, the firefighters will be split into teams, some attacking the fire and some acting as back-up.
Brockway is hosting the training. They have an in-house fire instructor, and that instructor will be working with ones from Horton Township. Hoskavich said many departments from Elk, Clearfield and Jefferson counties will be participating.
“A lot of work and planning goes into this,” Hoskavich said. “But we’re making sure we have everything the students and instructors need to make the day a success.”