By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Drivers-by may have seen plenty of smoke coming from a house in Milford Thursday evening. They may even have seen more than half of the 33-member volunteer fire department on the scene.
No worries. Nobody was hurt. In fact no one was ever in any danger.
The two-story farm house purchased by TruPointe Cooperative to make way for the new fertilizer plant was the perfect setting for some very serious training.
“When TruPointe bought the property, they asked us if we were interesting in using it for training,” said Milford Fire Chief Todd Haines. “This opportunity provides us with a way to simulate a real live search and rescue operation.”
Smoldering containers of wet hay were set throughout the house, creating the smoky atmosphere of a real fire without the danger of actual flames.
“You have your air pack on and you literally cannot see your hand in front of your face,” Haines said. “It teaches the guys how not to panic in a situation like this.”
Haines said the veteran firefighters led the less experienced team members into the home, explaining to them how to handle many possible scenarios.
“We teach them to stay low, work your way around — always to the right,” Haines said. “We tell them what to do when they come to a closet and all the different sounds to be aware of,.”
Firefighters practice ventilation techniques as well as search and rescue operations. The Thursday evening training took about two hours.
“These opportunities really teach us a lot,” Haines said. “We are very lucky to be able to do this.”