Firefighters Get Realistic Training Thanks To St. Luke's

Posted at: 06/10/2013 5:21 PM | Updated at: 06/10/2013 10:38 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Some unique fire training is taking place in Duluth this week thanks to St. Luke's.

The hospital is demolishing several homes on East Second Street this summer to make an employee parking lot. While the homes will be torn down, the hospital wanted to put them to good use first.

The Duluth Fire Department took the hospital up on their offer to use the homes for training.

"It's really nice for us to be able to do training in acquired structures like this because it lets us do things we can't normally do if we're training inside a fire station," Duluth Firefighter Andy Golz said.

Firefighters taking part in the exercises Monday had never been inside the homes. Golz said that is what makes the training so valuable.

"If we're doing a search drill at the Headquarters Fire Station, for example, we know that like the back of our hands," Golz said. "When we can get in these buildings like this and search there, it adds a whole other level to the training."

The firefighters were practicing two techniques, search rope training and emergency bailout training.

The search rope training is a newer technique for the Duluth Fire Department. Firefighters follow a rope to safely exit a building when there's low visibility. For the drill, firefighters put plastic wrap on their shields Monday blurring their vision making the training even more life like.

The emergency bailout training involved firefighters descending from a second-story window. They used a hook and rope to pull the exercise off.

"We've got a bailout prop at Headquarters, but it's just a prop," Firefighter Dan Smith said. "Here we've actually got a window that's actually on a second story."

While both these drills will potentially save a firefighter's life, Golz said everyone benefits.

"We want everyone to go home at the end of the day," Golz said. "If we're good at searching and finding firefighters, we'll be good at searching and finding civilians as well. It kind of covers both bases."

St. Luke's said the former tenants at the homes were given lengthy notice that their leases would expire at the end of May.

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