OGDEN — Smoke poured from the second-story window of the brick house and rolled out the front door like a fog bank before mixing with the cold air and dissipating.
But with a dozen well-equipped firefighters on scene, there was no threat to life or property.
Even without the firefighters present, there was little danger, because the smoke wasn’t the result of a real fire. It was part of simulated emergency response training for firefighters with the Ogden Fire Department, Weber Fire District and North View Fire District, conducted for three days last week at 422 North St. in Ogden.
That is the location of an abandoned house on 2 1/2 acres that firefighters filled with smoke and used to perform fire response and rescue exercises.
“They come help us, we help them. That is why we (the area fire agencies) like to train together,” Ogden Deputy Fire Chief Eric Bauman said of the joint-agency exercise.
With the agencies sharing automatic-aid agreements for responding to calls, Bauman said, bringing the firefighters from different departments together for a simulated exercise helps build relationships among fire crews that may be called on to work together in emergencies.
The training scenario Thursday involved a structure fire with an 8-year-old child missing and a responding firefighter down inside the house.
“This really gives them all an opportunity to come in and be as close to real as you can be,” Ogden Deputy Fire Chief Mathew Schwenk said of the shared training.
In all, Schwenk said, about 50 firefighters from the three agencies went through a handful of different emergency scenarios. After each scenario played out, the firefighters critiqued their performance.
Most training that firefighters receive is known as dry training, without smoke, Schwenk said. But in this instance, because the agencies used an abandoned house set for demolition next spring, they used a machine to fill the interior of the building with synthetic “stage” smoke to create a more realistic training situation.
“When you use real fire, you endanger personnel. With a smoke machine, you can control the environment,” Schwenk said. “We have got to have the best environment for training, without endangering personnel.”
In addition to providing training to firefighters, the exercise provides simulated communication training for support staff.
“This gives us that ability to train together for any emergency we might have,” Schwenk said. “It’s real good to know how each department operates and functions.”
Regarding Thursday’s training scenario, Schwenk said the “missing 8-year-old” was found unharmed at the local 7-Eleven, while the “down firefighter” inside the building was rescued by the response teams providing backup.