Rare look at house fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rare look at house fire

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August 18, 2005

Thomasville-- A rare look inside a fire department's training exercise shows why such drills are necessary to rookies and veterans alike.

It started in less than a minute on Thursday morning. The controlled burn is the last training exercise for some of Thomasville's fire rookies. "This is actually my first burn with the department," says Trainee, Matt Genter.

Genter may be a rookie, but he took the job because he's no stranger to fire fighting. "I'm the third firefighter in my family. My two older brothers are firefighters. I'm continuing a family tradition," says Genter.

Rolling smoke and searing flames are commonplace in Genter's new job. That's why his equipment is crucial. "We were in there thirty, 45 seconds at the most. The heat became too intense. The visibility became zero," says Training Officer, Captain Tim Connell.

Connell has been schooling the rookies for months now, a job that could save their lives one day. "We've done firefighter down drills all week long. We've done disentanglement drills in the house," he says.

Thomasville doesn't have a lot of fires because its fire codes are so stringent. That's why experience like this is so important to trainees. "They don't get the intense heat. They don't get the visibility in rookie school that we can put them through out here," says Connell.

There was a surprise in the rookie's lesson. The house actually had furniture in it, also a first for the veterans. "The flammable load, the fuel load as we call it, in a house is much higher," says Connell.

That sense of realism gives Genter experience, and satisfaction in his career decision. "I've always looked for a career that's exciting, that has some meaning, and some pride to it," says Genter.

As in this case, homeowners often pay the TFD up to $600 to burn their house. It's cheaper than demolition, and the fire department uses the cash to save taxpayer's money on equipment and training.

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