Mexico firefighter Zack Thomas, top, is taught by Deputy Chief Mat Theriault  how to vent a roof during training Saturday at 44 Richards Ave. Thomas recently joined the department. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

Mexico Fire Department Lt. Jamee Theriault, left, assists a firefighter with portable breathing apparatus during Saturday’s training. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

Firefighters practice reeling out hose at Saturday’s training exercise in Mexico. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

Mexico Fire Chief Richard Jones and Lt. Jamee Theriault roll up hose while another firefighter removes a ladder after Saturday’s training. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

MEXICO — Fire Chief Richard Jones said 25 firefighters got an opportunity Saturday to train by burning down a building donated for that purpose.

Clayton Miller donated his property at 44 Richards Ave., giving crews from Mexico, Rumford, Roxbury and Dixfield the benefit of honing their skills.

Jones said firefighters get better training with a live exercise.

“This gives them the best opportunity,” he said. “We’ve got three or four new people here today.”

Before the exercise began, the building had to be checked for hazardous materials.

“Nowadays, when they acquire a building for us to train in, the (Department of  Environmental Protection) is involved. They have to do an asbestos check, a lead check, prior to us even getting a building,” Jones said.

National Fire Protection Association standards must be met and documentation done.

Once all preparations were done, Jones said, “We set fires in the back room, so that gave them a chance to what it was like fighting a fire.” 

Firefighters created vents, which is “when they put the stream (of water) out the window, which sucks the smoke right out behind it.”

“They’re getting a lot of good training,” the chief said.