Firefighters training by building homes, then setting them on fire

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WHITE CITY, Ore. — Firefighters from across the state are building houses… only to watch them go up in flames.

It’s part of a training held each year by the International Association of Arson Investigators.

“If we don’t know how fires start… we can’t teach them how to be safe in the future,” said Deputy Fire Marshall Mark Northrop.

This isn’t your ordinary construction project, where what you build is meant to last.

“The purpose of creating these homes is so we can burn them down,” said Northrop.

Firefighters are getting their hands dirty building 4 offices, 4 living rooms, and 4 bedrooms.

“They will have electricity and all the comforts of home,” he said.

And there’s no better way to learn, he says, than by doing.

“The first time that they’re investigating a fire… isn’t a real fire… it’s one where we can point out where they can improve or do better,” Northrop said.

The 12 rooms will simulate real-life scenarios, some that are common for sparking flames.

“Something left on the stove or an electrical failure, we get a lot of that,” he said.

Others, that are less common.

“You can’t read people’s minds… arson is an act of the mind,” said Steve Corwin, former Illinois Valley firefighter and current private fire investigator.

Whether you’re learning to be a fire investigator or simply sharpening your skills…

“You never stop learning in this business,” said Corwin.

Firefighters say every bit of training counts.

“They have the confidence to match their education,” said Northrop.

The training will be held on Monday.

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