By Laura Colvin
Kuna Melba News editor
The situation was potentially deadly: a blazing couch inside a home on Ten Mile in Kuna on Saturday sent black, caustic smoke into the air and flames grew hotter and hotter.
The event was a training exercise for firefighters from the Kuna Rural Fire District, who converged on the property near Kuna Middle School to practice making entry, finding and removing victims—a 165-pound dummy, in this case—all while bringing the blaze under control.
“All the lectures and books and tests you get in the classroom are great,” said Captain T.J. Lawrence of the Kuna Rural Fire District. “But having a place where you can get a hands-on experience with real smoke and fire is what ties it all together.”
The home, Lawrence said, was donated to the district for training purposes about two years ago after owners Eleanor Adkins and her two sons, Bret and West Adkins, built a new home on adjacent property.
In the past two years, firefighters have used the home to practice searching for hidden fires in walls, ceilings, basements, and attics. They’ve also had hands-on experience learning how—while wearing 75 pounds of gear—to navigate through a window, door, or any number of other structural challenges they might encounter inside a burning building.
And, they’ve practiced rescuing occupants, as well as fellow firefighters who find themselves in grave danger when, for example, a floor or roof collapses.
While Saturday’s training allowed new recruits to get a feel for what it’s like to be inside a real fire, it was also a good refresher course for veteran firefighters, who were also on hand, Lawrence said.
Fire fighting isn’t what it used to be
Ongoing training is essential.
According to Kuna firefighters on the scene Saturday, synthetic building materials and synthetic household goods burn much hotter and much faster than traditional building materials, making for a more dangerous situation both for occupants and firefighters.
“With today’s lightweight construction materials, a roof will fail under fire at about eight minutes,” said Kuna firefighter Brandon Neice, noting, somewhat ironically, that national firefighter response time is also about eight minutes.
Given the growing complexities of fire fighting, Lawrence said he wants the guys on his crew to get as much real-life training as possible.
“It’s pretty rare that we get a home like this donated,” he said, noting the district will be burning the house to the ground in a training exercise in the weeks ahead, and he’s hoping for additional donations in the future.
“It would be great if people have an old structure sitting somewhere on their property they’d like to give us,” he said.