The Oak Grove Fire Department, in Catoosa, OK, burns a house that was donated and uses the experience for training its firefighters. They trained in this house for weeks before the night when it was finally engulfed in flames. Leading up to the final fire, the firefighters practiced several techniques: cutting holes in the walls to practice escape by crawling through with their bulky gear, hose handling and extinguishing fires, and cutting holes in the roof for ventilation. This valuable training allows rookies and new firefighters to get close to a real fire without the adrenaline rush of a true emergency. It helps the team improve their skills, communication, and teamwork.
The fire department started the night by filling the drop tank with water and burning the tall dry grass around the house in preparation for the live fire training. This helps ensure that the training wouldn’t cause an unplanned fire and if there was a need for water, they would be set up and ready to go! At one point, the large tree near the front of the house had to be hosed down with water so that it wasn’t damaged through the final burn.
These firefighters are all volunteers for the Oak Grove Fire Department, which means they take on the risk of being a firefighter without the paycheck. They spend time away from their families and friends and donate a part of their lives to the community they serve because they love this job. It’s a specific passion that each that each person has, and through training scenarios like this they learn to turn that passion into a true skill set. It was an honor to have photographed this training! The fire sure kept us warm on the cool Oklahoma fall night.