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Firefighters burn it up

Aspen Times writer
Basalt fire fighter Heath Childree begins dousing a practice fire at a house in Emma scheduled to be razed Wednesday evening July 27, 2004. A home was donated to the Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District to help instruct new fire fighters in attack and overhaul techniques and keep veterans trained. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.
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The heat was on Wednesday night for 13 rookie firefighters in the Basalt Fire Department.The 13 men and women got to apply five months of training in a realistic situation when the department set multiple fires in an Emma area house destined for demolition.

Six veterans of the department set the structure on fire, or contents within the house on fire, to give the younger members of their team a chance to come into a smoke-filled room, locate the fire and extinguish it.”It’s the most valuable kind of teaching we do,” said Jerry Peetz, the department’s director of operations. “It’s a real treat to be able to play with a house like that.”

The house was donated by Shelly Gross of Basalt, who bought a 3 1/2-acre property with a ramshackle old ranch-style house earlier this summer. She said a friend recommended that she donate the structure to the fire department before tearing it down.Gross, the mother of two, felt it could prove helpful to the department. “They need training so they can save our children,” she said.

The fire department put the house to good use. Last week it was used for search and rescue operations as well as ventilation and forcible entry drills, according to Peetz.Wednesday night the volunteers, all who have their Firefighter I certification, experienced what it is like to work in a room filled with smoke. They wore full gear, including oxygen masks, during the drills. The department wasn’t able to burn the house to the ground, despite Gross’ desires. “We couldn’t do it this year because of the fire ban and air quality issues in the neighborhood,” Peetz said.Gross will have it demolished and will build a new home.


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