Hinesburg Fire Dept. trains at burning house

Hinesburg Fire Dept. was joined by several other local departments to train at a real house fire on Sunday. Photo by Lee Krohn

Several months of preparation and training culminated Sunday as the Hinesburg Fire Department burned down a house outside the village. Signs stood along the roadway, volunteers took turns directing traffic, and smoke billowed across Route 116 as firefighters practiced their skills in a real fire.

Both fire and EMS trainings have been underway at the house since February, noted Hinesburg Fire Captain Eric Spivack, and in March and April, Hinesburg played host to the Chittenden County Basic Firefighting Class, with some of the training taking place at the house.

Sunday’s training had several goals, Spivack noted: “We will be able to obtain live fire attack training – full personal protective equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, hose advancement, and fire attack.” He added, “It is a good opportunity for the officers and senior members to practice our skills and for newer members to be exposed to smoke and fire conditions in a controlled situation.” Firefighters who hold a Firefighter I or II certification may count Sunday’s training toward needed hours for annual recertification.

Hinesburg Fire Department was joined on Sunday by fire departments from Shelburne, Charlotte, Starksboro, Monkton, Huntington, Richmond, and the Air Force. Crews of three to four firefighters at a time worked on fire attacks, with a safety line (hose) always in the next room. Hay bales, wood pallets, and donated furniture helped to fuel the fire. Safety officers also remained in the building as the training proceeded, Spivack said.

An ambulance crew from St. Michael’s Rescue stood at the ready should anyone require medical attention, and the Red Cross supplied snacks, drinks, and boxed lunches to all. Spivack estimated a total of 75-80 firefighters in attendance.

Property owner Jessica Guillemette noted that prior to her purchase of the property, a truck had hit and damaged the house. The land contains 210 acres conserved through the Vermont Land Trust, with four acres of the property excluded for subdivision or building. Guillemet, whose father farms the back end of the property growing haylige and corn for cows, noted that her goal for the property is some form of integrated agriculture. She has already planted Christmas trees on the property, and foresees other activities, such as community dinners and pumpkin picking, taking place there as well.

Two barns on the property are currently undergoing repair, and Guillemette, who also has a baking business, envisions an event barn on the four acres available for building. Perhaps a farmers market selling sweet corn, local maple syrup, and crafts, could occupy one of the barns. In addition to the building repairs already underway, Guillemette noted needed work on the driveway, which is a currently a rather rough turn off Route 116. Guillemette hopes to see some of this in place by late summer or early fall.

By late afternoon on Sunday, only a pile of smoky-emitting ash remained as a front-end loader pushed in the debris. The barns and fields still stood in the background, awaiting the property’s next incarnation.

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