Firefighters with the Palatine Rural and Rolling Meadows fire departments flooded a smoke filled home in Inverness, shouting and searching for people trapped inside.
“These opportunities are tremendous,” said Palatine Rural Assistant Chief Jeff Dill, “This kind of training is so necessary.”
While the house fire looked very real and firefighters moved with a sense of urgency, it’s all staged; a scenario setup to sharpen the firefighters’ skills.
Estimated at about $650,000, the Inverness home was donated to the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District and the Rolling Meadows Fire Department to be used for training.
“You just can’t get this kind of training unless you’re at a real house fire,” Dill shouted as a fireman cut into the roof of the home with a chainsaw, “We really appreciate it.”
“They said we could use it for two weeks before they take it down, so it’s keeping us busy,” said Dill. Three days a week about a dozen firefighters fire practice their rescue response skills for real-life emergency calls at the house on Appleby Road.
Two smoke machines pumped a thick layer of gray haze throughout the home as firefighters climbed up ladders to enter the home and check the stability of the roof. Looking on, Dill said, “We cover a little bit of everything but it’s a lot of search and rescue.”
Within minutes of entering the home, a firefighter leaned through the heavy smoke to pass a mannequin out the second story window. Waiting on a ladder, another fireman took hold of the mannequin and gently carried it down to safety. “It’s really heavy, that’s a difficult thing to do,” Dill said, “But that’s exactly what it’s like carrying a person down a ladder.” In every scenario, Dill said firefighters act and react as if it is a real-life emergency.
“These are dedicated men and woman who want the best training to save lives and property,” said Dill, “Any time we get hands-on training it’s good for our skills.”
Palatine Rural and Rolling Meadows fire departments wrap up training Thursday and the house turned training ground is set for demolition next week.