After Howard County notified citizens of a potential water shortage, firefighters burned down a house as part of live-fire training Tuesday—using minimal water, according to Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS).
“The amount of water used in the training was limited,” Jackie Cutler, spokeswoman for HCDFRS, told Patch.
Firefighters participated in a controlled burn Tuesday on the 5900 block of Waterloo Road that involved setting multiple fires to conduct training exercises before ultimately letting the structure burn to the ground.
"This is very valuable training that is critical to the preparation of the county’s firefighters," Cutler said. "Its application in real houses...is an invaluable part of our commitment to the preparation of our firefighting force and the protection of the public."
More than 84 firefighters, from every station in the county, participated in the live fire training on Waterloo Road, said Cutler, who told Patch the house had to be demolished by Thursday, July 12.
As of July 3, Howard County asked citizens to be discretionary in their use of the resource, while a water main repair was going on in Baltimore City; that particular water main is one of two major feeders for Howard County water, and repairing it could take as long as three weeks.
“This property, as is often the case for these types of opportunities, was only available for our use in a very narrow window of time, so we were motivated to accomplish the exercise, as postponing it would have meant cancelling it altogether," said Cutler.
"At no time was the water supply endangered," continued Cutler. "The potential for such an impact would have clearly dictated that the training not take place."
Before orchestrating the live burn, HCDFRS coordinated its training with other county agencies, said Cutler, including the Office of Law and Risk Management, Department of Public Works and Office of Emergency Management.
"The training burn conducted by HCDFRS was done at this time specifically to accomplish the training prior to any potential water shortage," said Cutler. "The department is closely monitoring the situation concerning the impending water main repair."
Over the next few weeks, the county said it has limited the testing of hydrants while the water restrictions are in place.
Utilities personnel routinely open hydrants to full flow to measure performance, according to Howard County's Office of Public Information. While the Baltimore City water main is being repaired, county officials said this is prohibited.
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