By Kim Breyley
About once each year, the Middlefield Fire Department (MFD) is provided with the opportunity to burn a home in the area, providing it qualifies, allowing for staff-training opportunities. On March 30, the MFD prepped the former Herdman house (also formerly the barbershop of Jim the Barber) located beside Ace Hardware on Kinsman Road in Middlefield. Aldi, a familiar grocery store, will replace this structure this spring, continue to build on into to the fall and hopefully be open for business late this year.
“In accordance with EPA and the NFPA 1403 Standard on Live Training Evolutions, roof shingles have to be removed and windows boarded up,” said Fire Chief Bill Reed. The windows have to be covered so as to inhibit the entrance of additional oxygen, allowing for a more controllable fire. The entrance of this home was marked with a capital A, signifying that this is the Alpha side of the home. Clockwise, in all fires, the other walls are named: Bravo, Charlie, Delta, giving the fire teams recognition terms when addressing each side of a burning building. Every level is titled as well: Division 1 and 2 etc.; 1 is the first story.
The following morning, the MFD along with teams from Farmington, Hambden, Mespo, Parkman and Windsor set up to burn the home. “It will take most of the day,” said Reed. The fire officers are blended into small teams and will enter the home under the direction of a qualified leader after a small fire has been started using pallets and straw; the EPA no longer allows accelerants for fire starting. A drone belonging to the Windsor Department will fly overhead giving the crew a birds-eye view of the roof and its integrity throughout the burning. It is Middlefield’s Captain Tony Yeropoli who will call the shots for this entire operation. “In every fire, no one goes in or out alone,” says Chief Reed. “If, in a fire, there are only three fighters and someone’s bell signifies low air supply, all officers retreat from the fire, thereby leaving no one alone. Before a fireman enters a fire, they are required to hand in an ID badge to an assigned accountability officer (AO); the fighter then retrieves it when he/she exists the fire. This way the AO knows at all times who is inside. Inside a fire, the lead officer directs the other officers, typically smoke is dense and vision is severely impaired. Much of the training in this fire was purposed to give the newest fire fighters real-fire experience as well as a concentration on victim recovery training. “The fire will burn up most of the house,” says Reed. It will burn into the basement and once cool, construction teams from Aldi will handle the cleanup and fill.
There are approximately 15 firefighters on the Middlefield Department currently, several of them are qualified medics and many are EMTs. Middlefield shares fighters with Farmington and Parkman. The fire fighters become qualified in a variety of methods. Career FF certification requires 240 hours, some at the MFD hold a 120-hour part-time certification, and a few are volunteers with a 36-hour Firefighter Certification. These requirements can be filled locally at Auburn, or students can attend a State Academy in Reynoldsburg. Reed has 31 years of firefighting experience and has been in the role of Middlefield’s chief since 2005. The Middlefield Fire Department is rated as an ISO (Insurance Services Office) Class 3 in the Village. Average response time to incidents in the Village is approximately 2 minutes and 28 seconds.
Future plans include regular live fire-training at a facility in Huntsburg utilizing large metal containers, the kind you see on trains. Inside these containers, firefighters will practice fighting small fires.
We have fire departments in this county of which to be proud. They regularly work in tandem. “We have six trucks,” says Reed. “And usually send out two, depending on the size of the fire and the aid provided from surrounding departments.” To learn more about the Middlefield Fire Department, visit middlefieldohio.com.