Members of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company watched as a house burned to the ground in Hickory over the weekend.
It wasn't negligence, though, as the firefighters were participating in a live fire training session Sunday at 2228 Conowingo Road. The fire company burned to the ground a four-bedroom farmhouse recently acquired by Van Deusen Construction Company, which will be building an office building on the now-vacant property.
"This is a rare opportunity for our members to train in an acquired structure," Eddie Hopkins, chief of the Bel Air fire company, said. "We greatly appreciate the thoughtful donation Jay Van Deusen is making that will help our members be better prepared to serve the community."
It has been several years since the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company has held a similar training session. Hopkins said the event benefited members of all experience levels.
"Our newer members were able to observe how a fire builds within a structure; actually seeing the progression and physics of a fire within a controlled situation. More experienced members applied their tactical skills within the structure and our drivers practiced their approach and water supply skills," Hopkins said.
Van Deusen, president of Van Deusen Construction and Rainbow International in North East, soon will begin construction on a 15,000-square-foot office building for his company on the 2.5 acres.
"We are extremely grateful for the service the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company provides to the community," Van Deusen said. "Being able to enhance their training by donating this structure is our way of saying 'thank you' for the job they do for us every day as volunteers."
Van Deusen Construction provided hot dogs and soft drinks during the controlled burn. In addition, the company donated $250 to the FCCAU Shelter for the Homeless in Harford County in the name of the person who correctly guessed the time it took for the building to be completely burned to the ground, which was 4 1/2 hours.