Jessica Mathews /

During their final practical training of the year Thursday, Howell Public Schools Fire Academy cadets came face to flame with actual fire in the Hamburg Township Fire Department Burn Tower.

Throughout the day, platoons of students entered the specialized burn building to experience a fire up close. While in the building, the cadets completed several exercises, such as observing how a fire begins, grows, and behaves, pulling hoses, and performing search and rescue operations in a smoke-filled room. The training was said to have put all the skills the cadets have learned this school year to the test.

Cadet Caitlin Thomas said "We went in; the fire was already burning when we got in there; we advanced the hose line in, all three of us working as a team; lots of teamwork goes into it. I was on the nozzle, so I crawled in, felt the door for heat, felt it was warm, so I expected the fire to be in there. I opened the door, and the fire was there. I crawled a couple of feet in, sprayed it with a straight stream, and backed out. I was so excited that last night I could not sleep. It was like the first day of school but a lot better because this is fun. I thought about everything we had learned and just went for it and hoped for the best. I felt very prepared, overprepared, actually".

The live burn training is the cadets' final practical training of the year.

Over the course of the school year, cadets in the program complete the required classroom and practical training needed to earn their state firefighters certification.

A graduation ceremony for this year's cadets will be held on Monday, June 5th in the Howell High School Rod Bushey Performing Arts Center.