ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – Before the construction of a parking lot, an interesting idea helped one New Mexico fire department get much-needed training. 

“We were going to go ahead and demolish the house, so a couple of firefighters said, ‘This is a great opportunity to do training,’” said Española Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief John Wickersham.

It happened when the department purchased a $350,000 property next to a fire station. Before the house on the plot was demolished to make a parking lot, the department got a rare, training opportunity.

The training allowed rookies and other members of the department to work on things like ventilating through the roof, simulating an extrication of a fallen firefighter, as well as self-extricating through a wall breach. They also trained in basic techniques and drills like rope tying and using equipment, but no live burn. 

“We train on props or some other things, but an actual home is a little bit different, so this is several of their first time doing that,” Fire Marshall Pablo Montoya.

The city bought the house and the property to build a parking lot next to the La Joya Fire Station. The parking lot is being built with Capitol Outlay funds approved by the state legislature. 

“We have some of our newer guys that just started with the department that are learning all the basic stuff, so a lot of that has to do with this equipment we are using,” said Montoya.  

The assistant fire chief and fire marshall said they know this will help the newer members of the team by providing hands-on experience before they continue training outside the city. 

“We are a small department, so to get a majority of us going all the way down to Socorro to stay a night or two, it’s almost impossible because we still need to cover the city with the firefighters we need on duty. It’s hard to get everyone together and train, especially when the facilities are not anywhere near our town,” explained Montoya.  

Wickersham said they are hoping to use funds to make a training facility and have a first phase planned out for December.  

The house they used for training will be demolished as early as next week.