Hiawatha Fire Department Trains for House Fires

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By Ellen Kurt

HIAWATHA, Iowa - Those in or around Hiawatha Saturday may have been alarmed by heavy, black smoke in the area.

The Hiawatha Fire Department was fighting a fire, but it wasn't for a call, it was for training. The developer donated the house that was being burned to the ground Saturday. That sits at the corner of Center Point Road and Boyson Road. Several others were also donated for training throughout the year. Mike Nesslage, Hiawatha Fire Chief, said the area will soon be redeveloped so the houses would have been removed.

"We've been training in this spot for several weeks, but today, we burned the house to the ground," Nesslage said.

Many people could see the smoking billowing from the house as they drove north on Interstate 380. He said they talk to neighbors and businesses in the area ahead of time to alert them of the fire.

"It's hard to get everybody, but there's no need to be alarmed," he said.

He said Saturday's fire is used to help firefighters hone their skills before they get in an actual fire.

"This is really important," Nesslage said. "It's a chance to get some training done in a real situation."

He also said this is a good opportunity for those new to the department to train in a controlled situation.

"I'd rather train them in a situation...where I know what is going on versus some place where there are holes in the floor. That's just a dangerous situation," Nesslage said.

A firefighter actually fell through a hole while fighting the flames of an apartment fire in Des Moines Thursday. He was released from the hospital Saturday after receiving treatment for minor back injuries.

Those in the Hiawatha can expect more smoke and fire in the area as training will continue for the next 6 months to a year.

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