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Firefighters Burn Down House

Neighbors gather to watch the excercise.

Local developer Michael Murad had no idea that he could burn his house down for a good cause. Last week the McLean resident was approached by the local fire department about donating a recently purchased house for the purposes of a firefighter training exercise. Murad was planning to rebuild a completely new home on the lot, so the home was scheduled to be demolished anyway.

"They train them how to put a fire out," said Murad, adding that he was delighted to discover that he would also receive a tax break for allowing his property to be used for this purpose.

The McLean Fire Department executed the training exercise on Saturday, Sept. 17. However, since the home was surrounded by a number of trees, they opted not to set the entire house on fire.

"They had some dummy persons that they carried out of the house, and they cut into the ceiling and broke the windows so that the fire goes out and in the other direction," said Murad.

ACCORDING TO Lt. Raul Castillo, a Public Information Officer with Fairfax County, these types of training exercises occur once every two to three weeks throughout the County, and are only executed in appropriate locations where the smoke that is generated will not present a distraction or hazard.

"They are for practical purposes and continuous training for our firefighters," said Castillo.

Castillo noted that these types of exercises are carried out in a multitude of ways, but that the purpose is to try and simulate a real fire-and-rescue situation.

"Everything is controlled fires, meaning that they use back-up hose lines... a lot of times a fire is set inside one area of the structure and a crew of two to three people look for the fire. At this point the house may be full of black smoke, so they do a simulation of searching for the victims before they put the fire out," he said.

Murad's son Daniel, a junior at McLean High School, and several neighbors gathered to watch as two fire trucks and two ambulances pulled up for the demonstration.

Murad, the owner of House of Stone, LLC, has also purchased several other adjacent lots and will be building new houses on them. He said he will certainly plan to donate any future homes that are scheduled to be demolished to the fire department as well.

"I didn't know you could do that and I am going to tell other developers I know that they can do this," said Murad. "It's pretty cool."