The Superior Volunteer Fire Department had the opportunity to do some live fire-fighting exercises on Sunday, Dec. 2. Volunteers met at Sloway Frontage Road where Isaiah McGuffey donated an abandoned building to the department. It was a 5,000-square foot raw wood building that was intended to be a house, but was never completed, said Fire Chief Steve Temple.
On Sunday morning, 16 volunteers broke into groups and trained on pressure ventilation and smoke and fire behavior as well as reading and structure protection. For the ventilation training, a giant fan was set up and crews learned how to position the fan and open the windows to let out smoke and heat.
Temple said a room filled with smoke and heat can cause dangerous “flashovers” and especially for the new volunteers, it was a good training experience. By afternoon, the entire structure burned to the ground and crews were able to further train on a full-structure fire.
During winter months, fireplaces are one of the leading causes of house fires, Temple said. Poorly designed wood stoves which contain a lot of elbows can cause heat to build up, or the homeowners simply make the fire too hot for the stove to handle, and an internal fire can break out.
Dirty chimneys can also ignite, especially when bull pine is used. It causes a buildup of creosote more quickly than cleaner burning woods like Douglas fir or larch. Chimney fires can be easily extinguished in most cases, but he said a recent fire at Tarkio was caused by chimney embers lighting dry leaves on the roof, which caused a more serious house fire.
Temple recommends people clean their chimneys at least once a year by using a chimney brush or calling a chimney sweep like Red Rover Montana in Missoula, which travels out to Mineral County.
Another important item is to have working fire alarms. The Superior Fire Department has once again teamed up with the American Red Cross and is offering free alarms to homeowners. They can receive up to three free alarms, which each have a 10-year battery life and come with fire safety training.
Another holiday feature that can help against electrical fires is to use LED Christmas lights. They don’t burn as hot and save on electricity. Other precautions homeowners should take is to make sure their Christmas trees are not too close to heaters, stoves or other heat sources. Also, according to the National Fire Protection Association, the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve.
For more information regarding the fire alarm program, or to volunteer as a fire fighter, contact Temple at 406-822-4900.