Large Home Burned for N.H. Live Fire Training

Feb. 5  -- A rambling three-story Victorian structure was used for live fire training in Woodsville, N.H., on Sunday.

Several evolutions were conducted in the building with progressively larger fires and attacks depending on the firefighters’ levels of experience. One evolution was conducted to allow interior firefighters to see how fire progressed. Using a tinder-dry, discarded Christmas tree, the trainers started a small fire and let a small group of firefighters sit in the room and watch how the fire quickly developed nearly to the point of flashover. Experienced firefighters were at the ready with handlines to knock the fire down and keep the observers safe.

Although there were hydrants available, the scenario called for rural water supply with an attack engine and two other engines for exposure protection. A fourth engine was deployed to a river about a mile and a half away. Seven tankers shuttled water to the scene where it was dumped into one of six portable tanks ready for use. Lines to a nearby hydrant were also deployed in case the rural water supply was not sufficient for the operation.

With the temperature in the single digits at the start of the live burn and not getting above freezing for most of the day, keeping water flowing and the tanker filled and dump valves from freezing was challenging. A privately-owned sand truck patrolled the tanker shuttle route to treat roads slicked by water slopped from the tankers.

Another challenge was protecting a large brick gymnasium which was not more than 30 feet from the burn building. A water curtain maintained by two strategically placed aerials provided protection to the exposure. Personnel checked for embers on the rubber membrane roofing on the public building.

From start to finish, the exercise took about six hours. Two excavators made light work of overhaul and controlled the remaining fire in the stone foundation.

Participating departments included Woodsville, North Haverhill, Haverhill Corner, Bath and Lisbon in New Hampshire and Wells River and Groton in Vermont.