BONNERS FERRY — The little pink house on Bonner Street gave its life to save lives. It was donated by Bill Hyatt to the Bonners Ferry Fire Department and has been used for extensive training, including live fire. Four months of hard work and planning went into the project, adhering to the The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes and standards, whose mission is to help save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge and passion.
“Live fire training is intended to provide the safest and best experience possible under both realistic and controlled circumstances,” according to NFPA 1403, Chapter 1.
There are experiences that can only truly be learned under a live fire situation, and the Bonners Ferry Fire Department made as much use as they could out of the donated building, playing out many scenarios, including rescuing a person who may have fallen through a burned out floor requiring them to breach walls in order to rescue the victim.
“They go in and started fires in different parts of the house and the guys went in and put the fires out,” explained Bonners Ferry Chief David Winey, in layman’s terms. The full story behind the simplified statement is months of preparation, ensuring the safest possible training for the firefighters.
“We practice some of those things,” said Winey listing the training exercises, “things we hope to never have to use.”
That practice can, and most likely will, save lives. So when the little pink house had fulfilled it’s training life, it was time for one last practice- burning it down. On Monday, Aug. 7, the Fire Department showed up in force, with a full crew, multiple trucks and hoses, spraying water from all directions, keeping the surrounding buildings and trees safe.
The firefighters all took turns, keeping hoses constantly on the fire, directing the flames and the burn process to maximize safety. As they rotated through the dinner tent, enjoying a home cooked meal, some remarked that it was strange to be watching a building burn, rather than racing to put it out.
The fire, which started in the late afternoon, burned through the night, with firefighters on duty to watch it every step of the way. “We’ve got a great bunch of guys,” said Winey, as he watched his crew hard at work, the veterans teaching the newcomers, all working as a team.
The lessons learned in the little pink house over the last four months, may just save lives in the future, civilian and firefighter alike.