NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Four days into the new year, Norfolk firefighters stopped the spread of a fire in an abandoned home in the Lindenwood section of the city. Rangecast captured the first transmissions as firefighters arrived on the scene.

(Audio of NFD arriving on the scene of a fire on Middle Ave. in Norfolk)

This week, hundreds of abandoned homes are the new training ground for Norfolk firefighters.

The former Tidewater Gardens neighborhood, just outside downtown Norfolk, is being demolished to make way for a multi-million dollar redevelopment project.

(WAVY Photo: Regina Mobley)

At a groundbreaking ceremony last year, Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander summarized the critical nature of what is being called a transformation.

“This is exciting for the city of Norfolk anytime we can help residents to live a more meaningful life.,” said Alexander.

Before the walls come tumbling down, firefighters are using the abandoned buildings to simulate an attack from the ground floor. On Tuesday, crews were on the roof to simulate a rooftop attack.

A fire department spokesperson provided a statement to 10 On Your Side:

“We are not allowed to perform live burns or damage the integrity of the structures- and all structures are deemed safe for training by the city prior to NFR being able to use them,” Battalion Chief Stephanie Ramsey said.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue crews battle the fire on the Spirit of Norfolk. June 8, 2022 (Photo – Norfolk Fire and Rescue)

Training the way you fight paid off for firefighters last summer when the Spirit of Norfolk caught fire on the Elizabeth River. No one was hurt, including several children.

The close-to-reality training in Tidewater Gardens also requires that firefighters make sure the buildings are secure before they leave the demolition site.

(WAVY Photo: Regina Mobley)

The training will continue for the rest of this week.

Ramsey said firefighters taking part in the training have completed the challenging regional firefighter training academy program.

“There is a great deal involved in training a candidate to become a member of Norfolk Fire-Rescue,” Ramsey said. “All of our members are cross-trained for fire and EMS, so our recruit academy is approximately nine months long.  It is a full-time position that is both physically and academically demanding, so it is quite the accomplishment to graduate from the academy. 

“The members you saw today were all incumbents and have successfully completed our regional fire academy. We have plenty of young members, but they are motivated and ready to work.”

If you are interested in applying for the program contact the fire department at