Coon Rapids house burned for fire training

Motorists driving East River Road in Coon Rapids Saturday morning (May 4) would have noticed Coon Rapids firefighters at a house fire.

Coon Rapids firefighters did training May 4 at 8554 East River Road.
Coon Rapids firefighters did training May 4 at 8554 East River Road.

But it was not the real thing, but rather a training exercise. The city had purchased the residence at 8554 East River Road through its scattered sites acquisition program late last year for $43,000.

According to Community Development Specialist Matt Brown, the house was foreclosed and had structural and code issues.

Under the scattered sites program, homes are acquired and demolished and then the lot is sold to a housing developer for a new single-family home to be constructed, using standards spelled out in the city program, Brown said.

In this case, the city handed the residence off to the fire department to conduct the fire training.

“We conducted several live fire burn exercises before we burned it to the ground,” said Assistant Fire Chief Bret Gageby.

Some 20 Coon Rapids firefighters took part in the day-long training program, most of them paid, on-call members of the department.

According to Gageby, more than 50 percent of the paid, on-call firefighters have been with the department for less than 18 months.

They get classroom training behind a desk as well as computer simulation, Gageby said.

But the live fire training gives them the experience they need when they are called out to fight a real fire, he said.