Mountain Road home set to be demolished used for Concord fire training 

  • Concord fire officials look over the house on the corner of Mountain Road and Sewalls Falls Road in Concord as part of a training exercise Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/21/2017 7:11:25 PM

Smoke plumed out of the Mountain Road home as a group of Concord firefighters stood outside, high-pressure hoses aimed at second-story windows.

People driving by slowed their cars to watch the spectacle at the intersection of Sewalls Falls and Mountain Road, where a row of emergency vehicles was parked.

But the crew wasn’t there to fight a real fire.

The Concord Fire Department was using the house – set to be torn down next week – to train a group of nine first-year firefighters on best practices in fire containment and rescue, Battalion Chief Aaron McIntire said.

The department used theatrical smoke made of water vapor – commonly used at concerts and theater performances – to create the illusion of smoke so they could practice drills in an obscured environment similar to that of a real fire, McIntire said.

They used saws to cut holes in the house’s roof for smoke ventilation, practiced victim removal from the home’s windows on ladders and checked for hidden fires in walls, just as they would in a real fire situation, McIntire said. The team practiced from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Concord Fire Department has been working with the property owner, contractor and demolition company since September to reach an agreement that would enable firefighters to practice at the site.

Tuesday’s crowd-drawing exercise wasn’t the first time the house was in the spotlight.

This particular house came to national attention last year when a film was made about Linda Bishop, a woman who died there in 2008. Bishop struggled with mental illness for many years and lived in the house without anyone knowing. Her body was discovered long after she died. Her story was the subject of a nationally touring film, God Knows Where I Am.

The department is notified anytime someone in the city applies for a demolition permit, McIntire said. It’s not too often they are able to do a “live training,” but they take advantage when they can, he said.

McIntire said he spent a large part of the day telling concerned onlookers that there was no fire at the site, and that the smoke and safety maneuvers were all part of training.

“It always draws a little bit of a crowd when people see fire apparatus in front of the buildings,” he said. “Especially in a fairly busy intersection like the one we were working at today.”

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)

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