PAROWAN – An old house went up in flames Saturday morning as part of a fire training exercise that also served to demolish an old vacant house to make way for new development.
The house, a small single-story on 200 South, has been vacant for many years and resides on property now belonging to Intermountain Healthcare, Parowan City Manager Shayne Scott said.
“This is an old house,” he said. “No one’s had it for 30 years.”
Intermountain Healthcare plans to build a new clinic on the property, which it bought last year. While figuring out the best way to demolish the old house, a suggestion was made to let the Parowan Fire Department use the structure for training – while torching it at the same time.
City officials liked the idea, as it would help clear the property for the clinic and give the city’s volunteer firefighters some structure fire training.
With the exception of the fire chief, Scott said, Parowan has an all-volunteer fire department. The fire chief position itself is a very part-time one, currently filled by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper.
The volunteers train on a regular basis, about twice a month, Scott said, and work to become certified in the various firefighting and rescue techniques attached to the job.
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Videocast by Corey McNeil, St. George News
The Parowan Fire Department serves not only Parowan and the nearby area but also responds to calls as far away as Minersville in Beaver County. The majority of emergency calls the department replies to tend to be accidents on Interstate 15, Scott said. They respond to a good number of brush fires too, but not so many structure fires.
“It’s been over eight years since we had a training like this,” Scott said, adding the city was grateful to Intermountain Healthcare for donating the house for the training.
It took about a year to get approval from state and federal agencies to burn the house down. Scott said they had to make sure there were no problems related to asbestos or hazardous materials in the house that would cause issues or trigger air quality concerns. The city had to obtain permission from entities like the Environmental Protection Agency.
Once the bureaucratic barriers were cleared, the old house’s fiery fate was sealed and a training was organized.
About 15 firefighters were gathered at the old house around 6 a.m., and the training lasted for about four hours. During that time, the old house burned while the volunteers gained some new experience.
“The city really appreciates the people that volunteer,” Scott said.
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