ROY --- It's a scenario that's rare, but does happen from time to time -- firefighters respond to a house fire with reports of someone trapped inside. It's a serious situation emergency crews need to be prepared for.
The fire units of Roy City Fire Department were training for that situation Wednesday afternoon, using live smoke and fire at a real house.
The house, at 3300 West and 5600 South was donated to the fire department for training purposes before its scheduled demolition.
"It's rare we get to use a house like this to train in," Capt. Kevin Monson said.
Monson said the particular type of training the department was working on was search and rescue involving a victim trapped behind a barrier of fire or smoke.
The objective of the scenario was to knock the fire down and get the victim out of the building as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The crew uses a flammable substance that creates a lot of smoke and minimal flames, so as not to literally burn the house down. They also use a fog machine to cut down visibility inside the house as much as possible.
A few members of crews from Clinton, Riverdale and Weber District fire departments joined the training exercise, because the departments frequently respond to the same fire and need to work together.
After each run, Fire Chief Jason Poulsen and Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Comeau went over with the men what they did right and what could have been done better.
"Our priority is to get water on that fire," Poulsen told his crew. "If we're able to get at it through an exterior window, that's preferable. We don't always want to enter from the front door."
The crew also talked about various strategies when trying to tackle a fire while at the same time searching for residents trapped inside.
One strategy discussed was dragging a dry hose inside the house, so the search units can move more quickly while still having their water source ready at a moment's notice.
The commanders are not immune to criticism. Poulsen asked his men what he could do better regarding communication.
The fire department has used the house for several different training scenarios. The roof has a few holes cut in it to train firefighters to create ventilation. The garage door was also caved in, destroyed after crews trained on how to get through it.
Monson didn't know much history about the house other than that it has been abandoned for several years. It is scheduled to be demolished by the end of the year to make room for an expansion of the Davis Hospital Weber Campus. The department asked if the building could be used for training, and the property owners agreed.
Comeau said the teams would also practice evolution operations, which are cases in which a firefighter is trapped and needs to be extricated.
The crew uses several safety measures to make sure no man gets left behind, including loud alarms that sound when a firefighter stops moving for too long or is low on oxygen.
Because the firefighters so rarely get to practice on a real house, they take advantage as much as possible. Comeau said the department has used the old building about 30 times for training exercises. Monson mentioned this would probably be the final time they use the building before it's torn down.
The crews also train at Weber County's fire training facility in Ogden, but an actual house provides the team with a dynamic, life-like exercise, Monson said.
"Training is the only way we're good at what we do," Comeau said. "It's especially good for the new recruits who can get their hands dirty."
Comeau said the department has a lot of fresh faces who are ready and willing to improve every day at saving lives.