Seasoned firefighters came together last week to give more inexperienced members training on a practice fire in eastern Craven County.
The Harlowe Volunteer Fire Department led 38 firefighters from five departments as an old home owned by Kenneth Williams was intentionally set on fire, helping the volunteers learn the challenges of fighting a real house fire in a safer environment.
“The training is for a lot of the guys who are rookies and who have just got on the fire department, and they need the training just in case they go into a real scenario,” said Harlowe firefighter Theron McCabe, who served as safety officer for the fire. “It’s good training for all of us. Even the guys that have been on the job 15 or 20 years, there’s always some training you need to know. Safety comes first.”
The exercise took about four hours, with several small fires set with an accelerant and hay. Firefighters rushed in to put out the fire in different locations within the house.
“We’re trying to get half a room involved and go in and extinguish it with our live burn instructors that we have on scene,” said Jeremy Brown, chief of the Harlowe department. “Hopefully that will help protect property in the future if we get any structures that catch on fire accidentally. It will be a lot easier for us as a team to go in an extinguish it.”
Departments from Harlowe, Mill Creek, Harkers Island, Western Carteret, Township 6 and Havelock participated.
“The rookies have a certain level of training, a 1403 standard,” Brown said. “With that standard they are supposed to know how to wear air packs and how to use hose and that kind of stuff to actually extinguish a fire. Once they’re checked off on 1403, that gives them some incentive to go inside of the building versus standing outside of the building. Some of them have just gotten their certification, so they look forward to going inside with some of those that have been going inside. That makes them better firefighters in the future.”
Robert Foisy, a Western Carteret Fire and EMS member for seven years, said the training was good for everybody.
“I believe that when you’re inside the fire, you’ve got other guys behind your back letting you know what you did wrong and what you didn’t do wrong,” he said. “It makes you more proficient at your job and that’s what it’s about.”
Fellow Western Carteret Nick Shepard felt the same.
“I feel it’s great training for everybody,” he said. “It gives everybody the time to work together as a team and build your skills up as you go along and just practice as you would be in a regular fire. There’s really no routine fire, but you’ve got to be ready for anything that comes along at you.”
Natalie Taylor, a historian in the community, came out to watch along with about 50 others. Taylor said the house at 255 Godette School Road represented a piece of Craven County history.
“This is one of those old homes from Cherry Point,” she said. “I don’t know if it was the ’50s or the ’60s when they sold all these homes. A lot of people bought them and moved them to the various locations.”