Firefighters Drill with Real Fire

A Low Country fire department is getting training this week that's about as hands-on as you can get. They're burning down a building, just for practice. An abandoned restaurant on Hilton Head Island offers the perfect practice facility, and WTOC spent this morning with the training crew. Normally, firefighters don't go around starting fires just so they can put them out, but this week, that's exactly what they're doing.

"The town purchased this property and they were trying to return it to its natural state and in doing so, we're able to use the building for a fire drill," Capt. John Thompson of Beaufort County FD said.

For the next three days, firefighters will be going in the old Huddle House on Pope Avenue, searching for fake victims, and putting out any number of real fires. Firefighters say this is some of the best training they can possibly get. It's not that often that they get to be in a real building that actually is on fire.

"I'm just glad I could participate in live fire training this early in the game," new firefighter Dan Mielo told us.

"They love it," said Thompson. "It's a chance to really do what they trained for at the fire academy."

Just because it's fun for them doesn't mean they're not serious. These fire fighters are being very careful with the building.

"For the most part, we keep the fires small, in control, so we can practice over and over in the same building," explained Thompson.

Friday afternoon, though, they'll have their biggest drill, when the entire building goes up in flames. Fire fighters want people to know that traffic will be tied up a where the training is taking place, at the corner of Pope and New Orleans Road.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite,