Idaho Falls Fire Department conducts live structural fire training and learns how fire reacts in a home

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – If you were driving in Idaho Falls on Thursday, you may have noticed smoke coming from a house near the park with fire trucks ahead.

Thursday was the last day of training for many new Idaho Falls Fire Department recruits, as the department conducted live structural fire training.

Battalion Chief Lance Johnson oversaw the academy’s new training program and attended live structural fire training. Chief Johnson says Thursday’s training is essential for the department.

“This training is extremely valuable in their overall training to become firefighters,” he says.

He says the environment is extremely controlled, giving the more experienced and rookies time to learn with hands-on training with their new tools.

“It’s still real, real fire with real risk. And so the adrenaline is rushing. We have, you know, real smoke, real risk for us. So we’re on the air and the risks are real for us, even though we “I’ve done things around the house, like removing all the carpeting, curtains and furniture. So it’s much more controlled.”

Chief Johnson says that although they’ve worked with the tools before, the hands-on experience is a big help as they learn how their bodies react to the pressure of a home fire.

“We do a lot of training on hoses and nozzles. We call them three lines of connected hoses, which are on the trucks that we stretch from fire to fire. And we already do a lot of training with these nozzles of tips. But it’s the first time they’ve done it in a real-life scenario.”

Josh Webb is one of the rookies taking part in the training. He says it’s nice to see how fire acts in a house.

“It’s a big part of, you know, what we’ve been training for for the last ten or eight weeks since a couple of us joined a bit later.”

He says the controlled environment really helped the training be a success.

“Like the danger is always real. You know, there are things that we can certainly elude here, but we have a lot of guys, 20 people watching their safety watches and various teams in place to make sure we we are safe throughout the process, we are able to slow it down, to have an easier look at what we can expect in a real fire.

Webb says one of the things that really surprised him about a structure fire like this was the amount of smoke in the air.

“Just the amount of smoke bank there from the small fire we have, does NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards, we have to do things a little differently. The burns are going to be a little different. So our smoke is actually much clearer, easier to see than a real structure. And so it’s a little bit different from what we saw in the classroom in terms of our setup. But it’s nice to be able to walk through all that fire and be able to, you know, have your eyes on and every place that can move and move and see the layout of every room is huge here.

Webb says training to be a firefighter is a childhood dream come true for him, with many new things after being a paramedic the year before.

“I had absolutely no experience in this area as far as fire. I’ve been a paramedic for about the last year now, so the fire was completely different to anything I’ve ever encountered. Just to see the top the level of training that these guys have and what they’re training for really prepares us for the situations that we’re going to find ourselves in,” Webb said. “So, you know, the same heart as a little kid who wanted to be a firefighter. My whole life for, you know, keep chasing after that. I think, you know, anybody really could do it if they had that ambition and that desire to do it. So that was awesome.

The training separated the recruits from their teachers, and then everyone rotated to ensure they were trained in all aspects of a structural fire response. After each fire was extinguished, the groups met and did a brief debrief to discuss how they could have done things better or what went well. Webb and his fellow rookies graduate from the academy on Friday and begin their first shift for some as early as Monday.

Ida M. Morgan