These Wakatipu Basin firefighters were busy last Saturday battling a blazing house – that they lit.
More than 30 volunteer firefighters from the Arrowtown, Frankton and Queenstown brigades sharpened their skills when a Dalefield Road house near Coronet Peak was purposely torched mid-morning.
Local crews were put through their paces by instructors from Dunedin and Alexandra as each room was lit and put out before the dwelling turned into an inferno.
Demo house fires provide invaluable experience for volunteers, Central Otago fire safety officer Stuart Ide says.
“It’s the best training we can actually give fire fighters. We can sit and talk about it in a lecture room for hours but we still won’t achieve what we can learn in an hour here.”
“Although we train for house fires, the fire service doesn’t want people to have house fires at all,” he adds.
Bearing in mind more than half start in the kitchen, Ide says having active fire alarms and shutting doors to contain blazes are simple ways house owners can keep themselves safer.
“And of course we just want people to get out.”
Frankton Volunteer Fire Brigade newcomer Damian Hill says putting out a real house fire was much different to normal training.
“I have put out a car fire, but we’ll probably walk into this and crap our pants,” Hill says.
Arrowtown station officer Murray Forward spent 80 unpaid hours organising to get the house, which the property owner wanted demolished.