Training in Verona gives firefighters, Madison College students experience battling apartment fire

VERONA, Wis. — Student firefighters from Madison College and firefighters from nearly a dozen agencies took part in a hands-on training exercise at a vacant apartment complex in Verona Tuesday evening.

Instructors from the college started the fires, which were equivalent to two large recliners going up in flames. From there, participants had to replicate all aspects of being a firefighter, from attacking the fire to search and rescue techniques.

Firefighters from nearly a dozen agencies across south central Wisconsin also took part in the training.

“This is actually night five for us of doing this, and the ability to share these apartments with other surrounding departments and to get that education and training out of it is just tremendous for us,” Verona Fire Chief Dan Machotka said.

Firefighters say structured live burns are an invaluable experience that helps them prepare for the real thing.

The buildings near the intersection of Topp Avenue and Legion Street are set to be demolished for future development. Owner Forward Development Group, which helped with Tuesday’s training, has also worked with police departments for K-9 training and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to salvage appliances and building materials.

Plans call for four new buildings at the site with a total of 277 apartments plus retail and office space.