Burn, baby, burn! Firefighters train on old home

Addison firefighter Jenna Seib (left) and Sgt. Chuck Johnson observe as the two-story house at 3801 Indian Lake Rd. burns Saturday as part of a training exercise. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
A house in Addison Township burned to the ground Saturday after local firefighters set it ablaze, then stood by and watched the destruction unfold.
But don’t worry, it was all done for educational purposes.
The Addison Township Fire Department conducted a live-burn training exercise using a vacant, two-story, log home believed to have been built in the 1930s.
Fire Chief Jerry Morawski explained such training is valuable experience for new firefighters because it helps them get acclimated to the thick smoke, intense heat and fast-moving flames produced by burning structures.
It also gives them “an idea of how much fire they can put out with 1,000 gallons of water.”
“That’s really beneficial for us out here to understand that (given) our limited (access to) water,” Morawski said.
Because there is no municipal water supply to draw from in Addison, there is no system of hydrants to which fire trucks can connect in emergencies.
As a result, the first engine sent to structure fires always contains 1,000 gallons of water, according to Morawski.
Addison personnel are trained to use this fixed amount of water as quickly and effectively as they can to either extinguish the fire right away or at least get it under control until more water arrives.
“We want to have water flowing in under 2 minutes from our time of arrival,” Morawski said.
Prior to Saturday’s exercise, firefighters had been using the house for training purposes for a month-and-a-half.
They learned search-and-rescue skills, firefighter survival techniques and how to rescue themselves from burning structures by bailing out of them using ropes and ladders.
“You need to be able to save yourself real quick if you have to,” Morawski said. “To do that, you have to practice.”
Four Oxford firefighters assisted in Saturday’s live-burn training.
“To have that working relationship with a neighboring department is just outstanding,” Morawski said.

3 Responses to "Burn, baby, burn! Firefighters train on old home"

  1. Jude Brown   June 15, 2018 at 1:42 am

    It is a shame that this historic structure was destroyed.
    In 1947 the Blue Star Mothers purchased this home along with about 100 acres. It was used as a rehabilitation center for World War II soldiers injured in the war. There were about 11 men recuperating here. They gardened, took care of chickens and geese to help with their rehab.
    Caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Button lived with the men.
    Ruth and Ken Brown (former Superintendent of Oakland County School System) bought the home in 1952. Their 7 children grew up here enjoying a once in a lifetime opportunity including planting 5000 seedling pines every year as a family project. The Red, Jack and Scotch Pines along with all the White Spruce seen beyond the tree line (now State Land) were planted by the Brown’s.
    Someone from the Blue Star Mothers organization should have been told this structure was going to be lost. There is an album at the VFW in Oxford with the early history.
    I’m extremely saddened by this.

    Reply
  2. Charlie Mason   June 17, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I have so many wonderful memories of the place with my cousins and families in Summer time. It’s sad to see it go, but the memories will never fade.

    Reply
  3. Meghan Holder   June 17, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Wow. This was my Grandparent’s home (Ken & Ruth Brown mentioned above). I wish we had known this was going to happen, many of our family would have made a visit one last time to say goodbye. Such a beautiful old historic log home – 3 stories, not 2. Spent many long hot summers in that big old house on the lake as kids with all of my cousins and extended family. I would think the logs themselves would have been worth something, some of them were enormous! Seems like it could have been taken apart and used more sustainably in newer architecture… this is really very sad. I’m sure it was a good test for optimizing the use of 1,000 gallons of water on a house fire for the future, but it’s truly devastating to discover that this happened. What a sad day.

    Reply

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