HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico firefighters have found a new use for homes that were originally scheduled to be demolished. Now, these houses are a training place for firefighters of all experience levels to gain new skills.

Fire crews are now using 30 houses in the Libbie Mill area in Henrico to train. These houses were originally marked for demolition as Libbie Mill prepares to expand, but now crews will be using the structures to practice breaking down doors, cutting holes in roofs, conducting searches in unfamiliar homes, and applying water streams.

It is described as a “public-private” effort that allows firefighters to have access to real structures instead of using a drill facility when training, which will ultimately help them in fight fires more effectively in the future.

This new form of training is already benefiting both less experienced firefighters and old pros.

“One of the things in the fire service that we have as part of our essence is the understanding that the day you stop learning is the day you need to retire,” Mark Cumashot, Henrico Fire Division of Fire Captain, said. “We have people coming out as a 25 to 30 year employee learning something new, and we have recruits who are new to the service coming out.”

Cumashot also said he hopes that the training at Libbie Mill will create the opportunity for more public-private partnerships for the department going forward.

You can watch footage of the crews training on the Henrico Government YouTube channel.