New firefighters train on cars at the Blazing Star Landing

Published 10:00 am Friday, April 4, 2008

A group of about a dozen new firefighters from the area got firsthand experience Thursday putting out a burning car during a special training session at the Blazing Star Landing.

Meeting just before sunset, South Central Technical College instructors Mark Light and Chuck Karl helped the firefighters stuff two donated cars with paper then light them on fire.

Of course, under the direction of their instructors, the firefighters then put out the blaze.

Email newsletter signup

It was an exercise set up to help their students see the practical side to all of the firefighting skills they learned in the classroom.

“You can talk about this stuff in the classrooms, but until you see how it really is, you really don’t know,” Light said.

A car on fire in real life is not at all like how it is depicted on television, he said. Unless you’ve experienced a burning car up close before, you don’t know about things such as how the tires pop and the airbags deploy.

From the sidelines during the training session, the cars could first be seen starting to smoke, and then flames began to engulf them.

The windows could be seen and heard popping out and every once in a while other popping noises could be heard.

After a few minutes of letting the cars burn, Light and Karl instructed teams of students on what they should and should not do in a burning-car situation.

After the clouds of smoke billowing out of the cars changed from black to white and the flames disappeared, the students gathered around the charred cars and the instructors to figure out what exactly caused the fire and where it started.

One of the firefighters, Andy Buckmeier, said the opportunity was an “excellent hands-on experience.”

Once completed, the cars were a total loss.

Participating in the training session were firefighters from New Richland, Hartland, Alden, Conger, Glenville and Albert Lea Township, Karl said.

The new firefighters are required to do between 120 and 130 hours of training, Light said. The final training session will be on a burning house in New Richland on April 12.

The two cars used during the exercise were donated from Allen’s Tow-N-Travel, which is right across Garfield Avenue from the Blazing Star Landing.