Clackamas Fire practices fire training with donated house

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 12:34 PM PDT
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HAPPY VALLEY Ore. (KPTV) – The Clackamas Fire District is warning Happy Valley residents they may notice smoke coming from the southeast side of town. But there’s no reason for alarm -- it’s where the department is conducting a live form of training called “Burn to Learn.”

On Friday, training was happening at a home donated to the department. A training crews are calling “crucial” as it provides hands on experience to train in a home.

The department says fifteen percent of calls they respond to are fires and the majority are at someone’s house.

“What we’re doing today is called a ‘Burn to Learn,’” says Clackamas Fire Captain Sam McCullough. “It gives our crews live fire training experience in a rather controlled setting.”

The home used was donated to the department by the Westlake Property Developments.

After three weeks of prepping the home to burn safely, firefighters and volunteers with the department suited up.

This includes radio training, as well as a mock search and rescue of the department.

McCullough says the drier weather didn’t factor into the scheduling of training but says the warmer temperatures should serve as reminder to homeowners to maintain the land outside of their home.

“--especially since it’s kind of been a drier spring,” McCullough says. “Now is a good time to start thinking about those fire defensible spaces.”

Friday marks the last day of weeks of training for crews at this home. McCullough adds that fires at homes are usually caused by human error.

“Cooking fires are predominant,” McCullough says. “Sometimes it’s electrical fires because of misuse of equipment.”

Officials with the department stress the importance of creating a defensible space around your home.

This means clearing any shrubs or debris from around your property.