Wednesday, May 4th 2016, Brittany Gray
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – First responders train often, becuase when there’s a call, they know every second counts.
On Wednesday, the Battle Creek Fire Department received a new tool to help with that training.
A home just west of downtown Battle Creek is run down and uninhabitable, but it’s exactly what the Battle Creek Fire Department needed.
It will now serve as the department’s permanent training house.
You can run scenarios on a computer, or sit in on a lecture, but none of that training comes close to this.
“It’s about building muscle memory. you don’t want to have to go to a scene and try to remember your skills,” said Battle Creek Fire Chief Dave Schmaltz.
The Calhoun County Land Bank Authority and the Battle Creek Fire Department have teamed up, and this is the latest house provided by the land bank.
“Many of them need to just be demolished because they’re so blighted,” said Calhoun County Treasurer Christine Schauer. “All the pipes are gone, all the furnace, the hot water heater, everything. There’s often holes punched in the walls, ceilings falling in, roofs falling down.”
In 2015, the land bank gave the city 15 houses to train firefighters.
Those were for temporary use, and stood for a few days of training before they were torn down. This will be permanent.
“We can simulate all those conditions from a standard home under construction with nothing in it all the way to a hoarding condition, which is not something we can do with a temporary structure,” explained Battle Creek Fire Lieutenant Andre Doser.
“We’re able to get in, put holes in the roof, smoke ’em up, do search and rescue, breech doors, breech windows, again skills that we just never ever get a chance to really practice,” Chief Schmaltz said.
That means these firefighters can run more scenarios and get better prepared for the next call. Because they know when it counts, they can’t second guess themselves. They have to be ready.
The Calhoun County Land Bank Authority tells Newschannel 3 that about 75 firefighters trained in those 15 houses provided last year.