IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - If you were driving by Community Park in Idaho Falls Thursday, you may have noticed smoke coming from a home near the park with fire engines in front.
Thursday was the final day of training for many of the Idaho Falls Fire Departments new recruits as the department conducted a live structure fire training.
Battalion Chief Lance Johnson has been overseeing the newest academy training program and over saw the live structure fire training. Cheif Johnson says the training Thursday is critical to the department.
"This training is extremely valuable in their overall training to become firefighters," he says.
He says the environment is extremely controlled allowing the more experienced and the recruits time to learn with hands on training with their new tools.
"It's still real, real fire with real risks. And so the adrenaline is pumping. We have, you know, real smoke, a real risk to us. So we're on air and the risks are real to us, even though we've done things to the house, like remove all the carpeting and drapes and furniture. So it's much more controlled."
Chief Johnson says while they have worked with the tools before the hands on experience is a big help as they learn how their bodies react to the pressure of a house fire.
"We do a lot of hose and nozzle training. We call them three connected hose lines, which are on the trucks that we stretch to a fire into a fire. And we do a lot of training with those hoses nozzles already. But this is the first time they get to do it in a real life scenario."
Josh Webb is one of the recruits participating in the training. He says its nice to see how fire acts in a home.
"It's an it's a huge part of, you know, what we've trained for over the last ten weeks or eight weeks since a few of us joined a little bit later."
He says the controlled environment really helped the training be a success.
"Like the danger is still real. You know, there's things that can definitely get away from us here, but we have plenty of guys, 20 people standing by on their safety watches and various teams in place to help make sure that we are safe through the process. We're able to slow it down, take an easier look at what we can expect in a real fire."
Webb says one of the things that actually surprised him about a structure fire like this was the amount of smoke in the air.
"Just the amount of smoke bank that is actually in there from the small fire that we have, do NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards, we have to do things a little bit different. The burns are going to be a little different. So our smoke is actually a lot lighter in color, easier to see than an actual structure would be. And so it's a little bit different than what we've seen in the classroom setting as far as our setup. But it is nice to be able to walk through that entire fire and be able to, you know, have eyes on and every place being able to move around and shuffle around and see the layouts of every room is is huge here."
Webb says training to be a firefighter is a childhood dream coming true for him, with a lot of new things after being a paramedic for the previous year.
"I had absolutely no experience whatsoever coming into this as far as fire goes. I've been a paramedic for about the last year now, too, so the fire was completely different than I had ever encountered at all. Just to see the high level of training that these guys do have and what they train for really prepares us for the situations that we're going to go into," Webb said. "So, you know, same same heart as a little kid who wanted to be a firefighter. My whole life to, you know, don't stop chasing that. I think that, you know, any anybody could truly do it if they have that ambition and desire to do so. So it's been awesome."
The training separated recruits with their teachers and then everyone would rotate to make sure that they were trained on every aspect of a response to a structure fire. After each fire was put out the groups would come together and have a quick debriefing to discuss how they could have done things better or what went well. Webb and his fellow recruits graduate from the academy Friday and start on their first shift for some as soon as Monday.