Firefighters get valuable training at Lehigh Parkway home awaiting demolition
Firefighters from four area fire departments were able to hone their firefighting skills without the stress of an actual emergency last week at a Lehigh Parkway home awaiting demolition to make way for a new structure to be built at the site.
“This was a very valuable training opportunity for our firefighters,” Western Salisbury Fire Chief Joshua Wells said. “We were able to practice firefighting techniques and skills under very controlled conditions, without the stress of life and property being at risk in an actual fire situation.”
The opportunity arose when the owner of a Lehigh Parkway property waiting demolition offered to make the home available for firefighter training with no restrictions.
“We were able to practice search techniques during our regular Monday evening training session, as well as being able to tear into drywall to simulate searching for hidden fire,” Wells said. “We set up an artificial smoke machine and sent our firefighters into the dark home with air packs on to provide a realistic scenario for a ‘middle-of-the-night’ search for victims, without the stress of knowing that actual victims could be awaiting rescue.”
The Western Salisbury Fire Department firefighters returned to the home Saturday morning, along with firefighters from Eastern Salisbury, Cetronia and Walnutport, to practice rooftop firefighting techniques, ventilation and firefighter escape routines in the controlled environment.
Broken glass, drywall demolition and rooftop ventilation access were not problematic because damage to the structure was not a consideration. A large piece of demolition equipment on the property was expected to make quick work of tearing down the home during the next week.
A neighbor of the home to be torn down noticed the equipment arriving and notified Wells the home was going to be torn down to make way for a new structure. Wells, who is a self-employed landscape contractor, was familiar with the neighborhood and was able to make the appropriate connections to get permission to use the structure for training purposes.
“Any time we can get this kind of hands-on experience without lives and property being in jeopardy, it’s a win-win situation for everybody involved, and for the community,” Wells said.