Controlled house fire on Merle Hay Road used for firefighter training

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JOHNSTON, Iowa — Drivers along Merle Hay Road in Johnston on Friday witnessed a house fire that firefighters intentionally set for training purposes.

The home at 5495 Merle Hay Road was donated to the Johnston-Grimes Metropolitan Fire Department for training. Leaders set up different scenarios so firefighters could get experience in different situations, including basement fire attacks and victim removal.

Firefighters have been training inside the home for more than a week, but on Friday they set several different fires for training. Capt. Tristan Johnson says this sort of training is invaluable.

“It’s really hard to have realistic fire training because that usually involves damage to things,” said Johnson. “So anytime we get a house donated to us, if it’s going to be either demolished or we’re going to burn it down, we try to get as many scenarios out of it as we can so our firefighters can get those good hands-on experiences.”

The fire department let the house burn down on Friday. It is one of two homes donated to the department.

The second training and controlled burn will be at 5475 Merle Hay Road. The fire department will be training on Monday, Dec. 13, Wednesday, Dec. 15 and Friday, Dec. 17. The home will be burned down by 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17.

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