Members of the Fountain Hills Fire Department Rural/Metro Station 822 had a rare training opportunity last week as a donated car was utilized in a vehicle extrication drill.

Matthew Tilden and John Destefano of The Finishing Touch Body Shop recently had a customer drop by with a vehicle that had withstood substantial damage. According to Destefano, the customer’s insurance agency eventually deemed the vehicle totaled beyond repair.

Rather than have the vehicle hauled off to a scrapyard, Finishing Touch offered to purchase the car with the intention to donate it to local firefighters for the purposes of training exercises.

On Friday, June 28, that’s exactly what they did.

At about 10 a.m., crew members donned their full gear and got to work dismantling the vehicle as if it were the scene of a live crash.

Fountain Hills Assistant Fire Chief/Fire Marshal, Jason Payne, said that despite the 100-plus degree weather, it was important to do the training in full gear and by the book because these are exactly the types of situations they will have to face in the midst of the dreaded Arizona summer heat. Plenty of water was on hand to keep everyone hydrated, though, and a break was taken partway through the operation.

According to Payne, the team really appreciated the vehicle donation.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to train like this,” he said. “Usually we have to train with much older models.”

The donated car boasted all of the standard modern equipment and safety features, something you can’t really train for when you’re cracking open a rusted clunker from 1990.