Our Dale Earnhardt Fan(s) of the Week.

Dale Earnhardt Incorporated Donates House to Local Fire Departments for Training

Dale Earnhardt Inc. recently donated an old house to our local fire departments for training during a controlled-burn scenario.  The following is an interview with Gary Styers , Assistant Fire Chief  for the South Iredell Volunteer Fire Department.

What is the purpose of this controlled burning?

To train firefighters in a real setting …actually dealing with a burning structure and the challenges that come up.  We have been practicing smaller scenarios, but this gives us an opportunity to train on what would be exactly like a real-life situation. 

How does this training benefit the firefighters?  The Community?

This will leave our fire fighters better trained and more qualified to deal with future fires, and keeps our skills sharp.  Anytime we do firetraining or fighting of real fires, the danger is there, and training can be just as dangerous as the real thing.  This kind of training can lessen the danger in the future, giving us the experience to recognize and better deal with issues that we could come up against.

What is the association with Mitchell Community College?

MCC helps provide continuing education for firefighters.  They are the delivery agency for providing training for the South Iredell area. 

Do you get many houses donated for this purpose?

Very few.  This is a very rare opportunity, as typically the houses must be in total disrepair.  In the past ten years, we have only had one or two other ones donated to us. 

What are some special preparations that must be made for a controlled burning?  Anything specific with this one?

There are national standards, OSHA guidelines, & accepted industry practices, rules & regulations that must be adhered to.  State, local, OSHA, and environmental permits are required for demolition by controlled fire.  It is a lengthy and complicated process. 

For this one, we have the challenge of dealing with a good amount of traffic on Highway 3 & Rocky River Road.  We try to not be instrusive, but provide & accomplish all standards. 

How many fire units & personnel will be involved?

South Iredell Volunteer Fire Dept., Mt. Mourne Volunteer Fire Dept., and personnel from other departments.    We will also have a certified instructor involved in training our firefighters, and will also be getting our own instructor qualified by NC State Fire Marshall’s office representative.  There will be approximately 30-40 firefighters on site.

How do you prevent damage to existing trees?  Neighboring properties?

We protect those with hose lines and wetten trees, also we will have lots of monitors for surrounding properties.  In this case, neighboring properties are well away from this structure. 

How long will it take to burn and to stabilize area afterwards?

Four to 6 hours of actual training planned, then, of course, fire personnel will stay on site until all burning is finished and the area is safe. 

What weather conditions could cause problems/delays/rescheduling?  Snow, rain, high winds.

If the weather had stayed dry we would have used water from a nearby pond as training for “using water from a secondary source”, but with wet soil conditions, that’s not really an option.  We don’t want training on getting a fire engine unstuck from the mud……that’s a whole different training session!

Of course, we don’t train in high wind conditions, as that presents more challenges in containing the fire, and we typically avoid snow and rainy days for a couple of reasons:  1) we don’t want to make the training any more difficult than it needs to be for our volunteer firefighters, and 2)  on those days, we have more need for our firefighters to be working actual fires and other emergencies. 

Anything else you would like to add?

We would like to give a big thank you to Dale Earnhardt Inc.  We appreciate the donation and the rare important opportunity to facilitate great training for our guys and other stations as well.  This enhanced training will benefit the entire community and help our firefighters stay safe. 


The controlled burn was held on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013.  All went very smoothly, with area families dropping by to watch the fire and the training.  No injuries were incurred, the new instructor was certified, and yes…..it did snow a little during the day.  Well done, firefighters…..and thanks for all you do to protect our communities year round.