Rare fire training in Clinton teaches crews valuable skills


Rare training put on by the Clinton Fire Department Saturday taught about 50 firefighters from Dewitt County basic skills in a real-life setting. It's a test that happens about just 20 times a year in Illinois.

"We're starting fires and actually putting those out," said Lead Instructor Les Lockwood.

Controlled fires were ignited in each room of an empty, two-story home in Clinton. Those flames were then put out by trainees.

"This is the most controlled fire you'll ever see," said Jason Karr, Assistant Fire Chief at the Clinton Fire Department.

State instructors explain how fire behaves, how crews should react and what to look for in these situations.

"And that's what you're always after for any firefighter is basic skills," Lockwood explained.  "This gives them those basic skills that they need."

WAND's Elise Menaker suited up attached a camera to the top of her helmet to get an up-close look at the fire. She was just several feet away from 800 degree flames as they quickly rolled across the ceiling.

"They happen so quick it's almost impossible to escape it," Karr said.

It's training that takes the right tools and preparation.

"We've controlled everything that we can control and we have a back up plan in case something gets out of control, so the risk is minimal," Lockwood said. "It's not eliminated, but it's minimal."

With each step, there are inexperienced and experienced crews.

"Learning what they can do as a team if a firefighter goes down and they have to go in after him," Karr said.

Each man and woman learning what it takes to save a life.

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