NTC students learn from Weston fire

March 25, 2013

From wausaudailyherald.com: “NTC students learn from Weston fire” — WESTON — A house in Weston burned to the ground March 16 in front of a group of firefighters — only this time, they meant for that to happen.

Fire science students and instructors from Northcentral Technical College and firefighters from several local fire departments gathered at a house on 5000 block of Ross Avenue in Weston to implement a controlled burn as practice for 32 NTC students.

The event was the first live fire exercise for Jackie Wagner, 31, a fire science student at NTC. She said the experience went more quickly and more smoothly than she was expecting.

“The instructors know what they’re doing and are helping us through it,” she said. “I figured I would be scared, and I wasn’t scared at all. It’s an adrenaline rush.”

Instructors, with the help of local firefighters, set eight small fires inside the house before they burned down the structure. With each fire, four students and two firefighters practiced attacking the fire, ventilating the house, clearing the smoke with water and fans, and finally putting out the fire.

The entire exercise ran for about six hours, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., as dozens of bystanders and neighbors stopped to watch the scene and take some photos and videos.

Adam Grahn, 29, also an NTC fire science student, had been through a live fire exercise several years ago, but he said he still found the experience helpful for building confidence while being in a burning and smoky building.

“Every burn is a little bit different, so you always learn something new,” he said.

NTC fire science instructor Doug Jennings said the school does between four and six live fire exercises a year. The owner of the house donates it to the school and pays for inspection fees and debris removal after the house has been burned, so it’s a good deal for NTC, Jennings said.

“It’s a win-win situation for the owner and the school,” he said. “We get a place to practice, and the owner doesn’t have to pay demolition costs.”

Jennings said NTC will run another fire exercise in Merrill in April.

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