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      Firefighters practice techniques needed for structural fires

      Firefighters from Liberty, Illinois and other fire departments came to Kingston, Illinois to practice putting out a structure fire Saturday.

      It's not everyday firefighters get to practice putting out a fire on a real house.

      "We don't face a lot of structure fires anymore and we kind of lose sight of some of our training," instructor for the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute Larry Bradshaw said.

      When an abandoned house became available to train in, firefighters from Liberty and neighboring communities jumped at the chance to use it.

      "This is an acquired structure house burn," Bradshaw said. "The local department finds old abandon buildings that the homeowners want to take to the ground."

      Larry Bradshaw is an instructor for the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute.

      He said firefighters from different levels of experience always look for opportunities like this to sharpen their skills.

      "There's guys here who have 30 plus experience, and there are guys here who have never been in a house fire before," Bradshaw said. "So this is the opportunity not only for the new guys to get in, but it's some of the old guys."

      Instructors set one room on fire at a time.

      "They'll divide up into teams of three and they'll do three rotations," Liberty Fire Chief Don Loos said. "They'll have an ignition team, a suppression team and a rescue team, kind of back up the other two teams that are in there."

      "We have five pallets, and we stack them towards the ceiling, then we load that with straw. We put a flare or a lighter just to light the straw and it gets the fire up to the ceiling quickly."

      "The fire to start rolling over, and behaving the way we want it to, quickly with it, so it doesn't tear the house down so that we can burn rooms multiple times," Bradshaw said.

      This was a first time experience for Liberty volunteer firefighter Sterling Musholt.

      "With the instructors, it's really nice to go through and understand how it works and how a fire can change and what to do in different situations," Musholt said.

      And firefighters like Musholt learn essential techniques they'll use the next time they're called to a house fire.

      "We show them hose handling, we show them how to use different tools, where we apply the ventilation and when, different techniques like that," Bradshaw said.

      At the end of the training, they set the whole house ablaze and let it burn to the ground.

      Musholt says he's learned a great deal of new skills from this training exercise.

      "Understand how I can utilize myself as a resource, along with other resources, to get there, get it done safely and quickly," Musholt said.

      Bradshaw wants anyone who knows of a house that needs to be demolished to notify him or the Liberty Fire Department at (217) 645-3543.

      If so, Bradshaw will contact the homeowner to see if his students can burn it down to practice putting out structure fires.