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Firefighters plan to burn Harrison house for training

November 10, 2018

Firefighters usually extinguish house fires, but, on Saturday, they’ll be setting a Harrison house ablaze.

One of the last remaining houses on Pleasant Road will be set on fire repeatedly that day so volunteer firefighters can train in it, Hilltop Hose fire Chief Mike Krzeminski said.

Firefighters from Harrison’s three departments are expected to participate, and those from Brackenridge and Tarentum have been invited, he said.

The training will start at 8 a.m. and run until about 4 p.m. During that time, the house at 110 Pleasant Road will be set on fire eight to 10 times, Krzeminski said. It will depend on how many firefighters attend and how many crews they are divided into.

The house is near the Route 28 interchange with Bull Creek Road. Residents and passersby should not be concerned if they see smoke, Krzeminski said.

“It’s a controlled exercise,” he said. “This is all sanctioned by the county health department. We have a burn permit and permission from the state fire academy.”

The house is in an area known as Job’s Hole. It is being cleared to make way for an office development. R&Z Harrison Properties bought the house in February for $132,000, according to county real estate records.

Brian Clark, a consultant to R&Z Harrison Properties, said work on the development, Harrison Point, is continuing but he could not immediately discuss details.

“We continue to move through the process,” he said. “It’s a complex project with a lot of approvals, and we continue to work our way through those.”

Last year, trees were cleared from the 45-acre site to protect northern long-eared bats, which are endangered, that otherwise would have nested there.

Burning a real house gives firefighters an opportunity for more realistic training, Krzeminski said. Crews will go into the house to put out the fires.

While there has been such training in other areas, it’s been quite a while since it’s been done in Harrison, he said.

“It’s invaluable training to have: to see the fire behavior, to get the people some experience of going into an acquired structure,” he said. “It’s not the same as what they see at the fire academy. It’s a more realistic representation of heat, of smoke, of fire behavior and the way they move lines through a building. It’s a very realistic form of training.”

Krzeminski said the house will be “pretty well consumed” by the end of the day.

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