Bitterroot firefighters gets hands-on training

Posted at 11:23 AM, Nov 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-11 13:26:16-05

HAMILTON – It’s starting to snow in Western Montana, but volunteer firefighters in and around Hamilton are bringing some heat.

Volunteers from Hamilton, Stevensville, Corvallis and Darby took to an old building to practice putting out house fires on Saturday.

The old building on the 200 block of Marcus Street in Hamilton was donated by the owner, George Bingham, to the fire department instead of demolishing it.

The building has been an apartment complex since the 1940’s and was on its last leg of life.

Hamilton Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief Joe Kerr said the department appreciates the opportunity to train in a real fire scenario.

“When you donate structures to a fire department, no matter where it is, it’s such a huge thing for fire depts to get this hands-on training. The best way to learn is by doing it,” Kerr said.

The fire department started preparing to burn the building at 8 am Saturday, and spent most of the day training to control the fire.

The plan was to let the building burn to the ground so that the property can be re-purposed.

This training provided an opportunity for the firefighters to practice in a controlled environment. Kerr said this practice is incredibly valuable.

“It’s great when people step up and donate them to us so we can utilize them for training like this. It allows our new guys, that don’t have all the experience, to actually go in and put small fires out inside the structure before we burn it all the way to the ground. It’s the best kind of training you can receive,” Kerr said.

This kind of hands-on practice is something firefighters don’t often get an opportunity for. The controlled fire raged for hours until the firefighters were done with their training.