Ten houses along Hamilton Road in Gahanna will be reduced to ashes, but not before providing a treasure trove of training opportunities, all under the watchful eye of the Mifflin Township Division of Fire.
Firefighters will take advantage of a local developer’s need to demolish the homes and will begin utilizing the houses for structural training during the next month. Training will be conducted primarily on weekends, beginning the weekend of June 28 and 29, and will go through the last weekend in July, starting with the northernmost structures.
Firefighters will perform an extensive list of safety, rescue and escape drills, and will set controlled fires in one room at a time, before the final burning and extinguishing of the house. The training will involve only one house per day. The houses slated for destruction include 390 Rocky Fork Dr. S., and 361, 353, 345, 331, 325, 317, 311, 303 and 297 S. Hamilton Rd.
“These hands-on, live training evolutions are an invaluable opportunity for the fire departments,” said Mifflin Fire Chief Timothy Taylor. “They give us a chance to practice a variety of drills in a safe, controlled environment, without having to incur the cost of creating a structure for the sole purpose of destroying it. Our firefighters do all the work needed to prepare the house for a variety of scenarios, and we even have materials donated to stage the houses for the exercises.”
The majority of the training activity will be hands-on exercises which take place out of the public eye. Residents may see fire vehicles in driveways, or small amounts of theatrical smoke may be
used, but there will be no disruption to normal neighborhood activities.
Live smoke and fire training, which amounts to about ten percent of the training, will take place only on the weekends, and will involve one structure per day. Care will be taken to avoid disrupting traffic. Only the far west lane of Hamilton Road will be utilized for staging fire equipment, and only as necessary. During these times, the public is asked to maintain a safe distance, and a public viewing area will be established for the protection of both residents and Mifflin Township firefighters.
All training will be conducted between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and will be weather dependent. No fires will occur on days when the weather would produce smoke low to the ground, or when winds would blow smoke directly into neighboring homes or businesses.
The Mifflin Township Division of Fire will also coordinate use of the structures for training with numerous other government agencies including the Columbus Fire Department, Jefferson Township Fire Department, Plain Township Fire Department, and Columbus State Community College, which offers an EMS/fire science program. The Mifflin Township Division of Fire will provide a standby crew and command staff at all training involving smoke and live fire.
“It is rare we are given an opportunity of this magnitude for our fire personnel to gain valuable hands-on experience, hone their skills and train with the division’s equipment,” said Chief Taylor. “But it goes beyond that. It’s invaluable training for the entire region, and should give residents an even stronger sense of confidence that their community fire department will be ready for them, should they need them.”
The Division of Fire adheres to strict safety guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency, and much work goes into preparing a house prior to using it for training. For example, any fuel, windows, carpet and wiring all must be removed prior to burning. For more detailed guidelines established by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, visit http://www.epa.ohio.gov/portals/41/sb/publications/burninghouse.pdf