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SHALLOTTE — Firefighters from several local departments received invaluable training at a live burn during a Brunswick Community College Fire-Rescue Training Division exercise in Shallotte on Thursday, Nov. 21.
The training exercise, in which a donated structure at 271 Smith Ave. was burned to its foundation, involved several fire departments within southern Brunswick County.
Shallotte Fire Chief Paul Dunwell said the planning for the live burn took about three months.
“This isn’t something you can just go out and do,” Dunwell said. “A lot of planning and time was put into this event.”
Dunwell said members from Shallotte, Sunset Beach and Shallotte Point fire departments worked collaboratively to work on different strategies and tactics for extinguishing the blaze.
“What we were doing was working with departments within our response plan,” Dunwell said. “Our goal was to work on and improve our strategies and tactics. We have a better understanding of how other departments work and what they’re doing that works. During these live training exercises, we like to anticipate what kinds of challenges we may face during a real event.”
Dunwell said North Carolina state instructors present were present, as is required for any live burn.
“We had state instructors from New Hanover County, Wilmington in particular, and one from Boiling Spring Lakes,” he said.
Ryan Young, a state instructor and member of the Wilmington Fire Department, commended the local departments for their work at the exercise.
“This isn’t easy,” Young said. “These guys work hard to make this happen. You have to meet a lot of codes and make sure your bases are covered before you just start burning buildings to the ground.”
Young said one of the requirements was to check the building for asbestos before the burn. He said North Carolina allows fire departments to use diesel fuel to burn the buildings during these exercises, which is not permitted in many states.
After the burn, members of the Shallotte Fire Department joined the Grissettown-Longwood fire team for another exercise Friday through Sunday.
“That was another exercise that just beat us to pieces,” Dunwell said, adding he pulled muscles he didn’t know he had during the weekend burns. “We accomplished some great things these last few days. Everybody worked really hard. This was a great team-building exercise for this time of the year.”
Dunwell said the next live burn will take place early in 2014, most likely in Sunset Beach.
“They’re working on one now, and we plan on assisting in any way we can with that burn,” he said.
Thursday’s exercise in Shallotte began about 8 a.m. and lasted until dawn Friday. “Overall the exercise was a huge success. We walked away with a lot of knowledge and invaluable training,” Dunwell said. “We also worked with Brunswick County Emergency Services during this event, and without them it wouldn’t be possible.”
For more information on fire and rescue training in Brunswick County, email John Winders with Brunswick County Emergency Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or email@example.com.