Multiple fire stations hold special training to prepare for the worst

(ABC 6 News) – From the deadly wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui to Canadian wildfires that have already burned more than 30 million acres of land, the destructive nature of fire has touched every corner of the world this year.

Northern Iowa & southeast Minnesota are no exception. Back in April, the Kirk Apartment building in Mason City burned to the ground, leaving residents of the building’s 44 units without a home.

The Kirk Apartment building one day after the fire

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, fire deaths are trending up. The state recorded its highest number of fire-related deaths in 25 years in 2022, with 2023 on pace to match or exceed last year’s total.

With this in mind, local fire departments are taking steps to make sure they’re prepared if a major fire were to break out. On Monday, fire crews from Harmony, Preston, Cresco, Canton, and Mabel organized a simulated multi-story fire, bringing out the houses to make sure they had enough water to handle such an event.

“We had a mutual aid training today to see if we had enough water capacity through our water system in the city,” Harmony fire chief Craig Morem said.

This type of training doesn’t happen often. The last time they did it was 20 years ago. But after a fire broke out in downtown Spring Grove last year that caused part of Highway 44 to briefly shut down as crews battled the flames, it prompted them to hold this training again.

Not only to see if they had enough water but the time it takes to haul it to other communities.

“We’ve had 3,000 and 2,000-gallon tankers,” Morem said.

This training is one of many ways these firefighters prepare in case there’s a fire, but it also shows these small communities have each other’s backs.

“We’re a small-knit town and we work close with all our neighboring towns so whoever calls we show up if they need us and they show up if we need them,” Morem said.

Chief Morem said the training showed them their water tower would hold up in terms of capacity.

Going forward they’ll discuss if they do have an incident, how much water they’ll need to haul.