Feeling the heat: Fire department practices live burn on Saturday (with photos)

“Flames are going to come pouring out through these windows in about 30 seconds,” Fire Chief John Mauro Jr. told me.

He said it as we were standing less than three feet away from the burning house at 41 White Bagley Road, peering in through the windows at the flames rollicking and dancing inside. If the intense heat wasn’t enough to make me step away from the windows, that warning certainly was.

Sure enough, a few moments later the flames came bursting through. Not long after, that portion of the house was fully engulfed. The heat was so intense that even standing 20 feet away it was almost unbearable.

It was the end of a long day of training — one in which the Southborough Fire Department conducted a half dozen live fire exercises throughout the small house that was slated for demolition — and all that was left to do at that point was manage the flames as the house was reduced to rubble and ash.

In each of the training exercises, a specific area of the house was set ablaze using hay to simulate flammable material typically found inside a home like couches and curtains. Rotating groups of firefighters would enter the home to battle the blaze from within and conduct simulated search and rescue, while others manned the fire from outside.

“It’s feeling the heat, not being able to see because of the smoke, listening for the crackling. You have to use your senses,” Mauro said. “It’s organized chaos in there.”

With temperatures approaching 90 degrees on Saturday, there was little relief from the heat between exercises. Members of the Southborough Community Emergency Response Team and Medical Reserves Corps stood at the ready with bottles of water and cool water misters to help refresh the firefighters.

Mauro said he was pleased with the way the training went. “It’s important to practice it now,” he said. “When it’s somebody’s house, it’s too late.”

Some photos are below (click to enlarge), and with any luck I’ll post some video tomorrow.

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Pat Quill
13 years ago

GREAT pictues Susan……. you are very talented.

Carol Willoughby
13 years ago

This was an excellant training drill not only for the Fire Department but also for the CERT/MRC team. We were glad to assist, plus, gained valuable information from the experience.

13 years ago

I remember delivery meals on wheels to the lady that lived there. She died several years ago. I know this was for an awesome cause and it was just empty for years, but it made me think of how proud she was of her husband building the house for them. time moves on.

Seymour Goode
13 years ago
Reply to  minimom

Dear Minimom.

Her name was Marjorie Adamson Sherman (nee Wilbur) and she adored her first husband who built their home from the bottom up with superior materials (he was foreman for the Grist Mill in Sudbury when that was built many, many decades ago). He would always tell her, “Marge, never sell your home!”

She was a very loving, generous, and special person. And is missed by many who loved her.

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