Training Fire Clears Path for Habitat Homes


Dave Findley and his family watched the home they lived in for nearly 40 years burn to the ground.

"You live here that long, you have feelings, a lot of memories," says Findley. "The kids were little when we first moved over here, my daughter was four, our boy was five."

Now their kids are grown and have families of their own. Last year the Findleys decided to move to a new house, and sold their old one to Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity.

"We purchased this property to make way for two new Habitat for Humanity homes, so the first one of those begins March 15," says Executive Director Dana Jelinek.

Instead of just demolishing the Lambert Street house, Habitat offered it to the Grand Island Fire Department for training – something Capt. Ed Carlin says they need for two new firefighters.

"We light the fires and control it and allow the firefighters to go in and practice what they read about and learned about," says the GIFD shift commander.

Carlin says feeling the heat and blinding smoke isn't something that can be taught in a book.

With less debris leftover, a burn is more cost-effective for Habitat too.

"The opportunity to have the fire department train, we take advantage of that because it's a great opportunity not only for us, but for them as well," says Jelinek.

The Findleys are as anxious as the future home owners to see new progress now that the old house is gone.

"It'll be a big improvement because a lot of the buildings, the outbuildings they had here were sub-par," says Findley. "It was time, it needed to go."

Habitat is using government grants to get the lot ready, but they're still trying to raise the rest of the funds needed. They hope to reach their goal at their Build a Dream Dinner and Auction on February 28.

The two homes, numbers 76 and 77 for the chapter, should both be finished this summer.