BRANT COUNTY -- Shades of red and grey filled the sky over Brant County Saturday morning for a controlled burn on two abandoned homes.

Firefighters put their skills to the test as flames and billows of smoke filled the air.

Councillors from the county geared up with firefighters to walk into the burning structures. They wanted to get first-hand experience of what it's like to fight a fire.

The homes were donated by property owners wanting to develop the area.

New recruits and seasoned volunteer firefighters did safety exercises and got a chance to use new technology.

"We'll be using equipment like a thermal imaging camera to check heat sources and see where the hot spots are in the residences, which we use for search and rescue training," says Darren Watson, the deputy fire chief for the County of Brant.

Steve Howes and John Peirce were the councillors that joined the team.

They say watching how fast the fire spread was eyeopening.

"At one point part of the ceiling came in and bounced on me, like little fragments and it's like, who ever experiences that?" said Steve Howes.

Firefighters practiced decontamination, which involves washing down any dangerous substances, once they got out of the burning building.

Even though the houses were abandoned, the smoke alarm still went off in one of them.

The fire department says it confirmed how crucial smoke detectors are.