House fire provides local departments training

Steve Holcomb Photo
Arial of planned house fire used as a training exercise by the Hiwassee and Snowville Fire Departments.

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

A house fire broke out in Hiwassee resulting in no injuries and no loss of property value, as both the Snowville and Hiwassee volunteer fire departments performed a successful joint training exercise Saturday morning.

The Hiwassee Volunteer fire department set the blaze and, together with several members of the Snowville Volunteer Fire Department, dumped about 1,500 gallons of water on the abandoned structure before it was completely extinguished.

Before becoming fully engulfed in flames, firefighters equipped with air-packs were sent inside the structure to test their gear. Bill Burton, with the Snowville Volunteer Fire Department was one of the firefighters who ventured inside. “I’ve been fighting fires for 36 years and I’ve gone into burning buildings with an air-pack many times,” said Burton. “It’s hot, smoky and you can’t see. Anytime you run into a burning building, you make sure you have proper equipment and make sure you have good help with you when you go. This is a great training exercise.”

Steve Holcomb, the official drone operator of the Hiwassee Volunteer Fire Department, was on hand to take some photos of this well-planned house fire, but why does a small fire department need a drone?

“We can send a drone where we can’t send people in dangerous situations,” Holcomb explained. “You can see hotspots on roof lines, you can look into second story windows. You can do a lot of things quickly as far as surveillance is concerned that you just can’t do otherwise.”

When not volunteering to fight fires with the Hiwassee Volunteer Fire Department, Holcomb runs the Hitching Post recording studio in Hiwassee, where he records mostly local musicians and occasionally flies his drone.

 

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