Biloxi firefighters set home ablaze for ‘invaluable’ training experience

Biloxi Fire Training

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A Biloxi home is now nothing but ash. The Biloxi Fire Department set the home ablaze on purpose Tuesday morning, eventually letting it burn to the ground.

The fire was an exciting first for little spectator Parker Wright, who had never watched one up close.

“He wanted to get out the house and come see it because he seen all the smoke by where we live at,” said his father, Kenneth Hall.

“We came out to let him look at the house, the fire. Teach him not to play with fire. He likes fire trucks. So, he likes to hold water and play with firefighters.”

The day was also full of firsts for some of the Biloxi firefighters fighting the blaze.

The house fire was actually a training exercise. The home was one of several that the city bought to demolish to make way for construction of the new Keesler Gate on Division Street.

But instead of demolishing it, the department decided to burn it down.

“It allows our younger supervisors, as well as our young firefighters, the ability to experience real fire, in a real structure. So, that they’ll have that experience to draw on when they do go fight fires," said Biloxi fire chief Joe Boney.

It’s an invaluable experience that Chief Boney said doesn’t come often.

Firefighters first practiced interior attacks before engulfing the home in a raging inferno to go defensive.

“There are times, not often, but there are times where we have to transition to an exterior attack where we have to back out of the structure," said Boney. "Use big hoses, big water to fight the fire to get it knocked back down, so we can go in and extinguish it. And we don’t get to use that very often.”

Keesler firefighters were also involved.

“It allows their supervisors to integrate with our supervisors, their firefighters to work with our firefighters. So when the real fire comes along, they can integrate with us seamlessly,” he explained.

It’s on-the-job training that will have the firefighters ready to handle the heat of whatever challenge they face next.

It took the department several months to get the approval to burn the vacant home for training. Chief Boney says they had to first apply to the state environmental protection agency to make sure it follows certain regulations.

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