Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

March 7, 2013

Practice makes perfect

Department conducts live fire training

By Steven Penn

AVON — The Washington Township/Avon Fire Department this week had an opportunity to conduct a live fire training exercise at a residence at 277 N. 900 E.

Chief Dan Smith said fire departments are able to apply for permits to do these types of live exercises.

“The state allows us — I think it’s three times a year — to apply for live burn permits,” Smith said. “So individuals that have homes in the county that they want to get rid of, depending on where they’re located and all those things, the county gives us permits to do training burns. What we’ve done, over the last three days, is we’ve had crews come in and do practice live fire burns inside the house. Once it’s done, we basically just burn the house for the homeowner.”

He added that it can be difficult to secure a permit.

“We go through permitting processes with the state and there is certain criteria that has to be met before we can do it,” Smith said.

“We have a lot of people calling us, wanting us to do it. It saves the homeowner money because they don’t have to pay to have it demolished, (but) there’s certain criteria that has to be met. (For instance) all the petroleum based products have to be removed from the home and all that kind of stuff.”

He said the exercises are used to simulate situations that could take place during an actual house fire.

“We light fires in different parts of the house, and we’ll do drills with down firefighters,” Smith said. “(We have) crews go in and extricate the down firefighters.”

Smith said live burns are one of the best training tools.

“We don’t get this opportunity very often,” he said. “It’s pretty rare, especially nowadays. There aren’t that many people getting rid of the homes in the area. This is the first time we’ve done it in two or three years.”

The home was owned by sisters Sara Snapp and Mary Sue Lisby.

“I grew up in that house ... there were five of us kids and mom and dad,” Snapp said, adding that her own two children took turns living in the house as well. “(My family) bought it in 1945, but it was going to cost so much money (to demolish it.)”

She added that even though the house is now gone, the property will stay in the family.

“My sister and I own it,” Snapp said. “We bought it after mom and dad both passed away.”