The Rodefeld farmstead has been situated at the corner of Cottage Grove Road and Sprecher Road since 1861. Four generations of Rodefelds lived there until a couple of years ago, when the property was sold to make way for new developments.
On November 3, 2016, the farmstead became an educational tool for Madison Fire Department recruits thanks to a generous donation by Hovde Properties to the City of Madison, with the blessing of the Rodefeld family.
The 19 members of Recruit Class 5 have been learning the basics of firefighting largely in a classroom setting. With concepts like reading smoke, fire behavior, and methods of fire attack fresh on their minds, the house burn was a chance to practice their skills in an unfamiliar environment.
Carpet and other furnishings were removed from the home, allowing instructors to have more control over the burn and recruits to focus on their exercises in a safer space. Smaller burns took place in the bedrooms on the second floor before the class moved on to larger burns on the ground level.
Recruits and platoon officers practiced making entry and applying water to various types of fire and materials. After each platoon completed its evolutions, the home was evacuated and windows were removed to set the stage for the final burn.
For the Rodefelds, who graciously gave the fire recruits this unique educational opportunity, it was a bittersweet day as they said goodbye to the home that was the centerpiece of 155 years' worth of memories.
“Times change. It needs to go,” said Dorothy Rodefeld of the place she called home for 38 years.
The skills acquired today will go on benefit the city's residents for years to come. Because of this, the Madison Fire Department is sincerely grateful to Dorothy, the entire Rodefeld family, and Hovde Properties for affording our recruits this experience.
Dorothy Rodafeld (center) with Recruit Class 5