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Trial by fire: Powell firefighters learn firefighting at planned house fire

Powell Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Kyle Cordes gained some experience when the department purposely burned a house on Road 9 for the training and because the owner wanted the building removed. ‘It was pretty intense, actually,’ Cordes said. Powell Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Kyle Cordes gained some experience when the department purposely burned a house on Road 9 for the training and because the owner wanted the building removed. ‘It was pretty intense, actually,’ Cordes said. Tribune photo by Gib Mathers

The house went up in a pillar of angry orange flame and roiling smoke as planned.

For training purposes the Powell Volunteer Fire Department torched a house owned by Tod Stutzman on Road 9, just north of Powell, on Monday night.

Stutzman wanted the old place to go up in smoke. The house had likely been there for 100 years.

“It was really uninhabitable,” he said.

Firefighters practiced entering the blazing abode in full gear and the new snozzle truck was put to the test, punching holes in the roof and smothering flames within.

In fact the snozzle was so effective, the firefighters halted its deployment, lest the flames be doused by the high-pressure water jetting from the nozzle before new firefighters could gain more experience.

Burning a house is good practice for firefighters, Stutzman said.

Rookie Kyle Cordes attended fire school in Riverton recently. Monday’s fire helped him gain more insight into fire behavior, he said.

For starters, he was able to further understand a house fire’s progress and its rapid development. He learned aspects of ventilation that can affect fire growth, fire attack tactics and how changing wind direction can influence fire to remind a firefighter to remain ever-vigilant.

“It was pretty intense, actually,” Cordes said.

“Burning a house not only gives the rookies experience, it also gives all fireman experience,” said Asst. Chief Damian Dicks. “In order to be ready to fight a real house fire we need to train and being able to practice in a controlled house fire is one of the best ways to get experience.”

Stutzman wanted rid of the old house so he can locate a mobile home there for employees, he said.

If someone wants to burn a building for removal, contact the fire department and they will examine the building to determine if it is feasible for training, Dicks said.

Stutzman appreciated the guys’ efforts and hoped it was a valuable learning tool. He also acknowledged what Powell firefighters provide the community.

“They do a good job,” Stutzman said.

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