April 23, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
47°F

Students’ trial by fire

Students with the Cuyahoga County Community College Fire Academy sit on hay bales while watching a home burn down at 3798 Laurel Road in Brunswick. The home and a barn behind it intentionally were burned down on Tuesday after academy students conducted fire training at the structures. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

More than 40 firefighters descended on two fully engulfed structures Tuesday afternoon as rubbernecking motorists on Laurel Road crept by.

The fire was set intentionally as part of a training exercise.

Students from the Cuyahoga County Community College Fire Academy spent two days training at a home and barn at 3978 Laurel Road in Brunswick and burning both structures to the ground Tuesday afternoon.

The academy offers both introductory courses and ongoing training for firefighters throughout Northeast Ohio.

Brunswick Assistant Fire Chief Rick Barber is an instructor at the academy, and he brought a few new members of the department to join Tri-C students in training. The Tri-C Fire Academy coordinated the controlled burn with the property owner.

Brunswick firefighter and paramedic Brad Weitz, who started with the department on Monday, was one of the Brunswick firefighters who got the chance to improve his skills.

“It’s a good brush up, to come out here,” said Weitz, a graduate of the academy.

Two students from the Cuyahoga County Community College Fire Academy spray water on the Laurel Road barn. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

He worked in Mansfield after graduation, but when a position opened up in his hometown of Brunswick, Weitz seized the opportunity.

“Nothing compares to training like this,” Weitz said.

He said a controlled training fire allows instructors to create situations that aren’t always present when fighting a fire.

“At a real scene, you’re trying to put the fire out and save as much as possible,” he said. “You can’t wait for all the stages of the fire to practice.”

Weitz said it’s fun to train with a controlled burn, because the usual stress of saving home and property is removed.

“A textbook can’t give you this kind of experience,” he said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.