‘Great Balls of Fire’

Cadets watch a controlled fire on Ford Street on Friday as part of an exercise run by the Youngstown Fire Department. The cadets are finishing their fire certification course and are looking to join local fire departments.

The Youngstown Fire Department lit a vacant house on fire Friday morning as part of a training exercise for 11 cadets looking to get their certifications.

The house, located on Ford Street just behind the M-24 parking lot on Fifth Avenue, had been vacant for a couple years.

“We go through the city demolition department and our vacant list and they find us houses,” Battalion Chief Jimmy Drummond said.

Drummond said that the fire department does controlled burns as part of training every year.

“This is actually the fire department running the class — it’s the Youngstown class. It’s mostly cadets, these aren’t Youngstown firemen, they’re just kids looking for a fire job somewhere and they’re getting their fire certification,” he said.

The cadets at the scene are currently in week six of the eight-week program. Friday’s controlled burn was the first of two live burns for the program. The second will take place next Friday, Drummond said.

“It’s a lot different than normal training because [in training] there’s no fire,” cadet Douglas Brandon said. “It’s hot, but it’s good though.”

Drummond said that seven fires were lit inside the house before the cadets went in.

“We just start a fire in the basement with pallets or hay or whatever we have to and get a room fire going, then let [the cadets] go in and put it out,” Drummond said. “You have to keep the water down to a minimum because you have to light more fires. We got two in the basement, three on the first floor and two on the second and third floors.”

The fires on the top floor were allowed to burn in order to ignite the house. The city demolition department will clean up the rubble on Saturday.