High School Students Take Hands-On Firefighting Class - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

High School Students Take Hands-On Firefighting Class

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A fire scene that could've turned tragic becomes a classroom for high school students. It's part of a firefighting program at the Galesburg Area Vocational Center. 

TV6 went along with students as they experienced this real life fire scene, but getting that opportunity isn't always easy. 

There are safety concerns with getting a home that's safe to walk around in and liability concerns with insurance companies and homeowners. 

This is the first time this class has been allowed to go in and see a fire scene firsthand. The class is full of aspiring firefighters, like high school senior Tim Smith. 

"Ever since I've been little I've been fascinated with fire trucks," Smith says. 

Smith has wanted to be a firefighter all his life.  

He says taking this class gives him the opportunity to get a head start on his training. 

"I think being a firefighter would help me even more with giving back to the community that's given me so much," he says. 

That's why smith and his classmates are jumping at the chance to see the devastation of this fire that almost took someone's life. 

"I feel that when you look at textbooks, but when you come here you actually see the real thing and how everything actually happens, this is like a real house fire that affected someone's life," Smith says.  

Fire investigators walk through the house with students. 

"The gas valve is on, I don't see any patterns here that indicate an upward and outward burning," Fire Inspector Mike Whitson observes of the scene.  

 They also show how they follow the fire's tracks to find a cause. 

"This indicates, an upward (pattern), and I'm just doing a vector analysis here of the fire progressing in to this room," Whitson says as he rules out the fire starting in the home's kitchen. 

But students get more than just scientific analysis, they learn the real life story behind the fire too.  

"To actually stand in it and see a little girl's sandals on the floor, bookshelves of books that are burned, and food laying out in the kitchen, that kind of stuff makes it, well that's like my house," Fire Marshal Dan Foley says.  

It helps students connect with fire and promotes fire safety and the importance of the job to save lives.  

"In the end result, it's somebody's life that could be at risk," Senior John Gibbs says.