“Through the years, they have improved the fire protection gear for the firefighters so well, that they have gone into fires and not realized how hot it is because they are so well protected,” VanNatta said. “They keep improving it.”
In addition to MWVFD, there were firefighters from Haltom City, Lone Camp and Gordon at last Saturday's training.
Conducting burns like this one not only gives the department a chance to train firefighters, but they typically receive donations from the property owner. But VanNatta said burning houses is “getting fewer and farther in between.”
It also takes a lot of pre-planning, he said, adding that the department has been working on this since November. They have to get everything in order, including clearance from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
But the advantage is: “It's how we learn to get people comfortable in houses,” he said. “They learn if you panic or get lost, you follow the hose out.”
I learned how easily this could happen.
“They are real confidence builders to new people and even people who have been into burning buildings before,” VanNatta said.
“It helps make us aware of problems we run into when we have an actual fire, [including the] furniture and everything in your way,” he said.
“It teaches you how the fire is going to react. Every fire is attacked differently, because every fire is different,” he said, explaining that a kitchen fire won't be the same as a bedroom fire and an upstairs fire has its added egress complications.
When Holmes encouraged me to go back inside, I did, this time without the camera, so I could get closer to the action. I knew what to expect now and followed Jacobson inside. It was his time to train.
In the back of my head I thought of why there is such a fraternal relationship among firefighters – there has to be to survive. And each one in that burning structure, even in a training situation, has to know there is someone who can take care of her or him.