Montgomery County firefighters get rare live fire training opportunity

Hadas Kuznits
February 15, 2020 - 4:09 pm
Montgomery County firefighters take part in a rare live fire training session at an eight-home complex in Upper Dublin scheduled for demolition.

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

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UPPER DUBLIN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — About 40 Montgomery County firefighters spent their Saturday battling fires at an eight-home complex already scheduled for demolition in Upper Dublin. The controlled fires were deliberately set as part of a rare, planned live training event.

Former fire chief Eric Claussen said in over two decades of firefighting, he had never gotten a chance to just practice his firefighting skills on a row of buildings. "I'd venture to say that almost everybody here has never done this," he said. "It's a very rare opportunity."

How rare is it? According to Fort Washington Fire Department President Eric Racz, "The last time, to my knowledge, that there was a live fire training in Montgomery County was over 20 years ago."

Lead fire instructor John Fogg added, "We do probably about 30 of these a year throughout the state and this is the first time in the last six, seven years that I’ve done one that’s been in a row of houses that we’ve had the entire row."

Firefighter Matthew Chiodo, who completed his training in November, said the experience helped him get a better grasp of his equipment.

"You know, it’s one thing to watch a video on how it works," he explained, "but then to get in there, all those gasses and see through a camera where I’m not in a real life situation where I have to go, go, go. I can be like, 'Alright, Let me take this opportunity to see what’s happening.'"

Due to all of the regulations, the live fire training took months to organize. Second alarmers, North Penn Goodwill and the Gladwyne Fire Department were on standby.

"We’re rotating groups so I gotta be patient," Claussen said, "but there’s plenty of fire for everybody."