Northland firefighters put to the test with live practice

Emily Ness
Updated: August 01, 2020 06:09 PM

It’s not every day that firefighters have a real house to burn down for training purposes. But on Saturday, multiple Northland agencies participated in a live-burn of a three story home.

Jason Maki from the Cloquet Fire Department said this training is second to none—especially for first time fire fighters.

“For a lot of these new guys—they haven’t seen live fire,” Maki said. “You know, you get in there with the heat, the smells, the different levels of visibility. It’s really great for these guys and it’s a controlled environment."

T.J. Roo, a new firefighter for the Cloquet Fire Department said being in this controlled environment was eye opening for a number of reasons, but particularly because he got to watch up close how a fire ignites and spreads.

“For me, it was them showing me how the smoke moves and how it can get in nooks and crannies of the house and how to make sure it doesn’t get behind you so you have an exit route at all times,” Roo said.

Paxton Kriske, another new firefighter for the Cloquet Fire Department said the fire was hotter than he expected and not something that could be replicated elsewhere.

“There’s a lot of good videos out there that you can watch to replicate it, but the feeling is a lot different inside,” Kriske said.

Chad Vermeersch, Interim Battalion Chief for Cloquet Fire Department explained that firefighters are able to perform multiple evolutions of training inside the controlled environment. This helps them prepare for many scenarios they may encounter.

“We’ll probably be doing 15-20 evolutions, lighting the fires, going in and putting them out and then doing it over again,” Vermeersch said.

Even after the flames of the fire have been put out, however, the lessons that they teach carry on.

For Dawson and Parker Maki, sons of Jason Maki, seeing their dad work is something they are proud of.

“When I grow up, I'll be doing this pretty soon maybe,” Parker said.

The house used in Saturday’s live burn was donated by Northland Constructors incorporated. It was scheduled to be demolished, so it was a win-win for firefighters and contractors.


Emily Ness

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