City of Kent sets controlled fires for fire department training


Tamra McMillion

Trainees surround one of the vacant houses being filled with smoke as part of a training exercise.

Tamra McMillion, Reporter

At 8 a.m. on Friday morning, firefighters entered two vacant houses that were purposely set on fire.

Beginning June 30 and continuing after the July 4 holiday weekend, the Kent Fire Department is training teams of firefighters by continuously filling two local houses with smoke.

“It’s a good training day,” said James Taylor, a member of the Kent Fire Department and the lead fire instructor for the burns. “There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing for it and actually doing it, but it is a good training day. It’s a little bit more different than just practicing stretching hose line, when you can see.”

Kent State donated the two houses located across the street from Franklin Hall at 226 and 230 South Lincoln Street, which are both set to be demolished. They contained multiple lit pallets of hay and were filled with smoke for the training.

“These are great houses because they replicate our student housing,” said David Moore, captain of the Kent Fire Department. “It gives us a good opportunity to practice and train in those things, in that environment and under those conditions, with live fire.”

According to Taylor, the teams are practicing getting to the fires, extinguishing them and searching for victims.

“We have training mannequins in there; they [trainees] don’t know how many,” Taylor said. “There could be one or there could be four. They don’t know until they get in there and find them. So, they go in search the room and make sure there are no victims, and if there are any victims, they practice getting them out to safety.”

Fire departments from the surrounding area are also sending teams to participate in the training.

“We have teams from all over our county to assist with us,” Moore said. “Other counties are here. We have instructors from all over the country coming in to help us, all of them on their own time and money.”

On June 29, the Kent Fire Department and the Department of Public Service sent out a press release that provided residents with information about the training and how it might impact the local neighborhood.

“We are doing everything we can to kind of limit the impact on the water,” Moore said. “I know there’s a risk that water might be cloudy because of this. People might see rust in their water. Just be aware of that. The water is still safe to use.”

This week, the teams will practice from Tuesday to Friday and plan to work from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“Any time we get to work with live fire, it’s exciting for us, because it’s more realistic,” Moore said.

Tamra McMillion is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].