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Wylie Fire Rescue Training On Soon-To-Be Demolished Homes

North Texas cities need to make room for their expanding population
Wylie Fire Rescue fighting structural fire in 2022. Photo: Wylie Fire Rescue | Facebook

As previously reported by Local Profile, Collin County has experienced the highest sustained growth rate of any U.S. county since 2000, with more than half a million residents. But while new residents bring new opportunities and development to our area, such an explosive increase in population introduces new challenges for local government.

Let's take the city of Wylie, for instance. Back in 1993, Wylie's population was just 9,845. Fast forward almost thirty years, and that number has risen to 59,394 and counting, according to the latest United States Census Bureau report. That's some serious growth! With cities like Wylie racing to keep up with resident needs, local departments and businesses are working hard to meet the new demands.

According to WFAA, in 2022, Wylie's Economic Development Corporation identified a number of homes that were set for demolition to make room for new developments. The homes along Brown Street were built in the early 1950s and some had structures over 70 years old. It was time to make way for new development. But before being demolished, these houses offered one last service to the city. The Wylie firefighters had an amazing opportunity to use them for training. "There's really not a more realistic training opportunity than using an actual home," said Casey Nash, division chief on training for Wylie Fire Rescue. 

This exceptional circumstance gives the department the opportunity to safely practice life-saving techniques that they ordinarily would only face while a real fire is ongoing. "We would much rather deal with a house on its last day in a training scenario than make a house's last day in a fire," said Nash.

Since the training began six months ago, all except setting the houses on fire was permitted — from breaching walls to carving through roofs to punching through bricks and squeezing through frames, the department was able to get ready for the real thing. 

Now, it might seem sad to see these old homes go. And sure, it's always a bit bittersweet to say goodbye to something that has been around for so long. But as Brent Parker, former fire chief and current city manager, said, "At some point, all homes reach an end of life. I really think it's just bringing everything full circle."

"Something else will take its place and we'll be ready for that as well," said Nash.