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Firefighters from Fredericktown and Marquand Fire Departments came together May 30 for a training exercise using a metal roof.

Fredericktown Fire Chief John Clark said metal roofs add extra challenges when they are at the scene of an active fire. He said they are more difficult to vent through the roof and often times result in a total loss of the structure.

"It became a pet peeve with me," Clark said. "We had three house fires in a row that had a metal roof and it just totaled them. I got to researching and talking to some firefighters on the east coast, because they seem to be in the know of everything, and they don't allow them (metal roofs) in the east coast, it is a midwest/southern thing."

Clark said in some situations they have to find a solution on site and have not had the opportunity to practice.

The training exercise on May 30 gave the firefighters an opportunity to have some hands on experience with the metal roofs. 

In this case Clark had possession of a house that he planned to tear down, so before its demolition date he set up various exercises including one to work with the metal roof.

Firefighters were given the task to vent the roof in order to draw the smoke out and form a chimney. Clark said this technique makes it easier for firefighters to move around inside the structure and to perform extractions.

While the house on 505 Franklin was not really on fire it was filled with fake smoke vapors and crews were treating the situation as if it were real.

Once the firefighters were on the roof and managed to get the chain saw up to them they cut through the metal only to discover additional roofing materials underneath.

Clark said he knew about the multiple layers of roofing but in order to keep the experience authentic he kept the information to himself causing the crew to troubleshoot the problem in real time.

"With metal roofs we usually end up getting in from the side because of how hot the metal roof gets," Clark said. "This is why we do what we do to learn from experience and when a real event happens we have already troubleshooted some of the problems."

The Fredericktown Fire Department has hands-on training every third Wednesday of the month with additional sessions when there is a fifth Wednesday.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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