Created: 07/10/2014 7:41 PM KAALtv.com
(ABC 6 News) -- If you were driving along Valleyhigh Drive in northwest Rochester Thursday afternoon and saw a cloud of smoke and a big commotion, don't be alarmed. The Rochester Fire Department was doing a drill, one that was as realistic as it gets.
"You kind of know a little bit what to expect, but every time you go in there it's different," said one of the newest firefighters, Kevin Youngblom. "We have three other guys that are the same with me, they got hired at the same time, but I’m the lowest on the totem pole," he said. Though he's had months of training, this drill was a different ball game.
"What they're doing today is called a level three burn, where they bring the crews in stages as if it were an actual fire, they come and arrive at different times," said Assistant Fire Marshal Larry Mueller. The first commander to arrive gives the orders. "...different assignments whether it’s fire attack, search of the floor above, search of the floor below, or ventilation," said Mueller.
The biggest task however, is collaboration "You go in there and there's smoke banked to the floor and you’re hearing people yelling and you just have to listen to your captain," said Youngblom.
It's a kind of pressure you don’t always get with basic training. "Actually working in that environment with real smoke gives them the most realistic training for when they're on the job," said Mueller.
"This is invaluable to get a house like this,” said Youngblom. Typically a new firefighter does the academy for several weeks and then at the end, the department tries to acquire a house for them to train in, like this one.
Not everyone there was new though, some were transfers from other stations and others were applying for higher roles within the department. The department does about three or four of these burns a year. This home was donated to the Rochester Fire Department by the home owner.