Where there was smoke there was no fire all last week during a training exercise conducted by the Junction City Fire Department and the Fort Riley Fire Department.

The JCFD flooded a condemned house on the 100 Block of 16th Street Tuesday afternoon with nontoxic smoke using an industrial-quality smoke machine to allow firefighters to practice search and rescue techniques and other basic firefighting skills.

According to Junction City Fire Chief Terry Johnson, this kind of training is integral to making sure things go well when an actual fire takes place.

“If you don’t practice your skills — if you don’t keep up on them — you’re not as proficient as you should be,” he said. “So Fort Riley and Junction City are working toward building those skills.”

Johnson said such exercises helped firefighters not only hone their skills but build confidence in those skills so when something happens — such as the structure fire that burned Munson’s Prime to the ground early Wednesday morning — it will be fresh in their minds.

The smoke allowed participants to “make the visibility really low so that we have to use all our senses and have to use all our skills for search and rescue for persons possibly in a structure, how we move our hose lines through the building,” Johnson said. “All those things are what we call muscle memory products. Like an athlete, we have to practice to be better and that’s what’s going on there. We’re doing that practice and getting those skills built.”

It’s all about keeping the firefighters safe.

“If it keeps the (firefighters) from getting hurt and it keeps us safe and it gives us the confidence and skills we need to save a life, then it’s worth every moment that we do it,” he said.

Johnson said he was grateful the firefighters were able to use a condemned residence for the training exercise.

“When we have properties that we’re going to tear down anyway, if we can get some use out of them the value of that training — just to do this practice training — if we were to take the 10-16 guys that go over thereto that structure to train and send them somewhere for that or pay for a class for that — that’s a lot of money,” he said.

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