GREAT FALLS — Except for the fire trucks and firefighters outside, you may not have known there was a fire inside 2222 8th Avenue North in Great Falls on Friday morning, as Great Falls firefighter recruits went through live burn training.
This was the start of a new partnership between the fire department and Habitat For Humanity.
As a fire quickly burned in a room inside the house, Great Falls firefighter recruits sat in the room, protective gear on and hose at the ready, watching and learning.
"We will be doing a dispatch over the radio. They'll respond accordingly to what they hear on the dispatch,” explained Shane Klippenes, GFFR Deputy Chief of Training. "They’ll pull the hose, the captain will preform a size-up. They'll go in, they'll take a look, they'll find the fire, extinguish it. We may have some scenarios where they'll be doing some rescues."
Klippenes said the training was made possible thanks to a Facebook post by the fire department asking for structures that could be used for training.
The Great Falls chapter of Habitat For Humanity saw the post and offered up the house, which had already been scheduled for demolition.
"We're here for the people of Great Falls. It's very important to us. This is an amazing opportunity,” said Aaron Shepherd, Great Falls Habitat For Humanity assistant director.
Shepherd sees this as the beginning of long-term partnership, and not necessarily just with the fire department: "We'd definitely be interested in offering these homes up to any of the community services that need training,” said Shepherd.
While the fire department doesn't set the whole house on fire, the training is still an opportunity that firefighters wouldn't otherwise get.
"It'd be just like responding to a fire at any house in Great Falls, where we pull up and we're not familiar with the layout of the inside. At our training center, people get conditioned by the layout of it to know exactly what they would do. 'I'm going to turn left here and go up the stairs here'. That's what makes an acquired structure like this invaluable,” Klippenes said.
If have a house or other structure you’re interested in donating to Habitat For Humanity, call the office at 406-453-5972 or visit their website.