Fire Dept. To Burn Large House For Training

The Carolina Beach Fire Department will be conducting training exercises at the large white house at 515 Cape Fear Blvd starting this month and continuing to November 15th without the use of actual fire. On November 16th, the department will conduct a live burn at the 4,789 square foot home. Fire Chief Alan Griffin updated the Council on the upcoming training exercises during the Council's October 8th, meeting.  The home was recently purchased to make way for four new single family homes. The Carolina Beach Fire Department will be conducting training exercises at the large white house at 515 Cape Fear Blvd starting this month and continuing to November 15th without the use of actual fire. On November 16th, the department will conduct a live burn at the 4,789 square foot home. Fire Chief Alan Griffin updated the Council on the upcoming training exercises during the Council's October 8th, meeting. The home was recently purchased to make way for four new single family homes.

Fire Dept. To Burn Large House For Training Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 09 October 2019 19:18

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Carolina Beach Fire Department has been offered an opportunity to conduct fire training in the large white house at 515 Cape Fear Blvd. The property was recently purchased and the structure will be demolished to make way for four new residential properties.

Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin explained to Council earlier this week, "We have multiple requests a year to do a controlled burn on a property. Very few meet the criteria the Fire Department uses to determine if a home is eligible for this program.  515 Cape Fear Blvd has been determined to be a good fit for this training.  Part of the process includes the Fire Department educating the neighbors on what is going on, and how they ensure adjacent properties are safe."

Parvin explained, "The training this offers our fire department is extremely valuable.  Sending our firefighters to this type of training costs thousands of taxpayer dollars. By having our locally trained officers lead this training we not only help the homeowner with safe removal of the home, but also allow for all firefighters to be involved with training on the island vs. a handful going out of town for training."

He explained, "I’ve spent some time talking with the Fire Chief about this opportunity and I’m convinced we should move forward.  However, education is obviously very important with this process" and, "I will ask the fire department to put together a one page flyer that we can put out to educate the general public as well as the neighbors in the area. Let me know if you have any concerns."

Developer Richard Wallace purchased the 4,789 square foot, five bedroom, four bath home on September 26th for $718,000 from Isabell Foushee.

 The home also has a 676 square foot garage attached to the home via a breeze-way.

On October 5th, Mayor Joe Benson inquired about the potential training event and quoted someone who sent him a request for information stating, "Mr. Mayor, myself and surrounding neighbors don't need to be walked thru a process, we need a voice! Several of us are concerned about the smell permeating into ours homes as well as my 23yo has asthma and would not benefit well with the ongoing smell!"

During the Town Council's October 8th, meeting Fire Chief Alan Griffin said training would occur from October to November 15th without actually burning the structure. A live burn will be conducted on November 16th.

Griffin explained, "It's not something that we've kept under the rug. We just physically have not got to the point that were in a position to discuss it and this week we finalized all of the paper work with the property owner and they got their paper work finalized. And so we are prepared to move forward with doing some training."

Griffin said, "The person bought it and they will be demolishing it and redoing the land there. It's an opportunity and anytime we get an opportunity for a large building we try to do training in it. So the training schedule we have pushed out right now is from October through November 15th window. We will be doing some drills out there so residents will see some activity with fire trucks out there. All of this activity will be no live fire, no real smoke. It's just us out doing dry drills. We do have smoke machines we can use to do some artificial smoke."

He said the department is working the North Caroline State Fire Marshall to conduct a live fire burn of the structure on November 16th.

Griffin explained, "Every house that we are seeing built on the Island today is extremely large. Multiple stories. We just put on nine brand new firefighters in the last six months. So getting a house that we can actually push lines up stairwells, tight stairwells, winding stairwells, it's huge for us. It's important to us to get a building like this."

He said it's an opportunity to conduct training in a real life situation rather than the typical training exercises they often use. He said it's a rare opportunity and, "We get a lot of opportunities to burn houses on the Island and we turn probably 98% of them down. Some of them we don't get to train in because of either the condition of them or it's a short time table before they are removed."

Griffin explained the structure was inspected for asbestos and checked out with a clean environmental bill of health. That is one requirement before using a building in a live-fire exercise, to remove all asbestos materials such as windows, pipes, etc.

He explained, "Over the last several years we've done several lives burns, Carolina Beach Fire has, on the Island. The last one we did in recent history was in 2017 on Snapper Lane. We burned a house there."

He explained, "I'll be the lead instructor on it. I've been a live burn certified instructor for the State of North Carolina since 2000. During that time I've done numerous burns all over North Carolina from residential, commercial and I've even burnt two hotels in Southern Pines and Aberdeen's district."

Griffin said for this event, a total of 12 certified instructors will be on hand and the training will be conducted in conjunction with Cape Fear Community College which will also pay for those instructors to be on scene.

He said an information flyer will be handed out to area property owners containing all of the information relating to the exercise as well as contact numbers in case people are not home when fire fighters visit individual owners to speak with them about the training exercise.

He said, "On the November 16th date, we will be conducting the live burn. There will be smoke and fire obviously. During that burn we do have to shut down a little bit of the road. We will be shutting down 6th Street between Cape Fear Blvd and Charlotte Avenue. There is one resident that has a driveway there. We would leave that one lane open for them to come and go as they needed so no residents would be blocked. Everything else would be conducted on the property itself."

Griffin said he will personally go around to area residents in the immediate area to speak with residents.

He said, "As we conduct the burn, we have to look at the smoke and the weather.  So when people ask if I'm going to be smoked out, that's a tuff question to answer. Typically what we see, because we are lighting fires and the smoke is heated, the smoke goes up. It doesn't typically lay. If the atmosphere makes it lay, then we will judge that and decide whether we even burn that day or if we start burning and things are laying real heavy, then we have stop burns for that reason. If the weather is too windy... we would cancel the burn."

Griffin said all aspects of the training exercise are reported to the State and they control the event.

He said if area residents want to stay in their homes during the live-burn exercise, they should leave their windows closed adding, "No different when the State Park burns or anyone else burns, you could have smoke and it's all dependent on the wind."

Council member Leann Pierce said, "The sooner you can start notifying the residents, the better."

Griffin explained, "We are going to be very diligent to make sure we are good stewards of the people. Even when we do our night drills we are usually done by 9 o'clock and we are not going to be doing a ton of noise but there is some noise associated with fire trucks. But all of our drills on Monday nights are from 7pm to 10pm."

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