Fire departments usually put fires out instead of setting them.
But the Washington Township Fire Department on March 11 had its firefighters running in and out of a Jerome Township home, extinguishing flames they were directly responsible for creating.
Rather than committing arson, the fire department was instead undertaking a controlled house burn on a one-story home to allow firefighters to train in a real-life setting that their regular training doesn't include.
Burning a live structure is different than the more controlled burn that is achieved by burning propane in the fire department's training tower, said Alec O'Connell, Washington Township fire chief .
"It's more realistic, I guess you would say," he said.
Firefighters would get a chance to perform search and rescue, practice water control and use thermal imaging cameras, O'Connell said.
The department planned to do several burns over the course of the day, starting with individual rooms to see how the fire reacted, O'Connell said. They planned to start in the morning at 8:30 a.m. and conclude by 4 p.m.
Although the fire department has done house burns in the past, several years have gone by since the last one, O'Connell said. The fire department in September purchased the property at 9447 Jerome Road for the eventual location of a fifth fire station.
The house burn helps mitigate the cost of upkeep on the lot, O'Connell said.
The fire department worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and the city of Dublin to make sure the structure was safe to burn, he said.
Buildings can react differently when they burn, said firefighter Matt Scarbury, and weather patterns can change how the wind blows smoke, he said.
Fire Capt. Marcine Smith said she has participated in multiple fire burns over the course of her career.
The practice is helpful, she said, because the controlled house burn gives firefighters a chance to operate in real-life scenarios with the utmost safety conditions in place.