Fire drill

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Vacant home turns into training grounds

Firefighters from the Volunteer Fire Department of Prospect watch as a house at 122 Waterbury Road in Prospect is engulfed in flames during a live burn demonstration on Sunday. The department performed training exercises at the vacant home over the weekend. –LUKE MARSHALL
Firefighters from the Volunteer Fire Department of Prospect watch as a house at 122 Waterbury Road in Prospect is engulfed in flames during a live burn demonstration on Sunday. The department performed training exercises at the vacant home over the weekend. –LUKE MARSHALL

PROSPECT — Prospect firefighters received some hands-on training over the weekend.

On Saturday the Volunteer Fire Department of Prospect held a firefighter safety and survival drill at an empty house located at 122 Waterbury Road. On Sunday the department burnt the house to the ground during a live burn demonstration.

The house had originally caught fire during the Feb. 8 blizzard, said Mayor Robert Chatfield, who is also a member of the department. The owner of the house sold it to CLN, LLC, he said.

CLN decided it would allow the fire department to use the house for training rather than tear it down, according to Chatfield.

Saturday’s drill consisted of teaching firefighters how to escape a burning building when they are unable to make it to a door. Firefighters received bail out training from the second floor of the house, in which all firefighters wore a special harness and slide down a ladder face first.

“If conditions inside get bad fast this teaches them how to get out of windows,” Assistant Fire Chief Bill Lauber said.

Bridgeport firefighter Peter Morotto, an instructor at the Wolcott State Fire Training School, and Waterbury firefighter Steve Veneziano, director of the Wolcott school, ran the drill for the firefighters.

Veneziano told the firefighters these types of escapes are dangerous and they could get injured. But, he said, it is still a better option than being trapped in a burning house.

On Sunday the house was set on fire during a controlled burn to show cadets and junior members of the department what happens to a house as it burns down.

The fire was lit at about 9:30 a.m. It took roughly 20 minutes before the house was fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighter Jay Pugliese said although the department used fuel to accelerate the fire, it was the same amount of accelerants that can be found in the average home.

Pugliese said the speed with which the fire can spread is why the department recommends everyone have a working smoke detector and, if it goes off, to make sure they exit the house as quickly as possible.

“Once you are out, don’t go back in for any reason,” Pugliese said.

Chatfield said the department holds these drills and live burns whenever someone donates a house. The last time the department performed a live burn was at a town-owned house on Talmadge Hill Road five years ago, he said.   

Chatfield said department would like to thank the public for their cooperation during the drills.

“Everything went well,” Chatfield said.