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Rookies learn to fight fires

Firefighters from Frazee and Wolf Lake learned how to fight a major blaze at a controlled burn Wednesday night.1 / 2
RUNNING THE DRILL Wednesday night were Frazee Fire Assistant Chief Scott Geiselhart and Training Officer Adrian Herbst. The live burn gave rookie firefighters the chance to experience the intense smoke and flames of a residential fire.2 / 2

A few inexperienced Frazee and Wolf Lake firefighters got a taste of what's it like to be on the scene of a major blaze at a drill Wednesday night.

The large fire that could be seen from miles away was a "level one" training that was eventually put out around 10:30 p.m.

Many area residents driving by on Highway 87, about 13 miles east of Frazee, slowed down to watch the simulation.

Training officer Adrian Herbst said before anything happened, he gathered all firefighters and went over the techniques to use during the controlled burn.

Firefighters walked through the house to orient themselves and get familiar with their surroundings. Then they were put to the test under intense pressure when the entire building was filled with smoke.

Herbst said because many times firefighters get claustrophobic while carrying all of their equipments and masks, they panic and just want to get out.

"Training is the time to find that out -- not in the real deal where people's lives are on the line," Herbst said.

But in case of an emergency, two captains were watching out for the guys inside the house, while an entire crew waited outside ready to go.

A level one drill trains firefighters on how to handle high smoke levels. Then the fire is lit while firefighters wait outside, where a level two burn allows for entry.

"Basically we see how they react once they start to feel the heat, and the smoke," Herbst said. "Once it gets to what we think is a comfortable level, we'll have them knock it down."

Two of the Frazee firefighters who participated in the training Wednesday had some experience dealing with fires, and four Wolf Lake members had little to no experience, Herbst said.

The Frazee Fire Department conducts about one to three controlled burns a year, depending on the availability of homes.

"We're trying to get more people familiar with making entry on the real deal," Herbst said. "And we use this to make sure they're using the skills that they're trained with and that they're truly comfortable with doing it."