Hinckely home provides hands-on training for firefighters

by Emily Canning-Dean

Thanks to the generosity of a Hinckley property owner, firefighters from Hinckley and surrounding areas had a unique training opportunity this fall.

Personnel from fire departments in Hinckley, Granger, Seville, Brunswick Hills, Richfield, Maple Heights and Valley View joined forces Nov. 18-19 to participate in the live burn of a house on Center Road.

“The owners had built a new house on the property and asked us if we wanted to use it for training,” said Jen Amburn, administrator for the Hinckley Fire Department.

The department conducted two days of training. On Saturday, Amburn said, fires were lit in the interior of the house.

“These controlled burns create a smoky environment where firefighters can train,” she said. “Then, Sunday we burned the whole house down. By that point it is more about making sure the surrounding area doesn’t catch fire and the fire is contained to the house.”

“Everything went so smoothly. I was ecstatic,” Hinckley Fire Chief Jestin Grossenbaugh said. “It’s excellent training to be able to experience live burns in a real house and learning how to move through real heat and smoke and how to work with our mutual aid partners.”

Grossenbaugh said it was important to invite nearby fire departments to participate in the training because in the event of an unplanned structure fire, the departments would likely be working together.

He also noted the age of the house also provided valuable training for the firefighters.

“This was an approximately 200-year-old house,” Grossenbaugh said. “Older houses tend to burn differently than newer construction so our members got the opportunity to see how the heat and smoke move through an older house like this.”

The event also afforded firefighters the opportunity to rotate through several different stations and also allowed them to practice search and rescue drills inside of the structure.

Amburn said the department is grateful to the property owners for donating the house for training purposes.

“We have been very lucky to have this kind of opportunity two years in a row,” she said, adding that another property owner donated a house for a live burn in 2022.

Grossenbaugh echoed Amburn’s sentiments, noting that he appreciates the support from the community. He said the fire department might have a third house available to conduct similar training in this spring. The department will have to follow up with the EPA and the property owner’s insurance to make sure the live burn will be feasible.

“Nothing beats this type of real-life training,” Grossenbaugh said. ∞

Following two days of training, the house was fully engulfed as firefighters controlled the burn. Photo submitted.