Land bank donates houses to B.C. fire department


Trace Christenson, Battle Creek Enquirer 3:58 p.m. EDT May 4, 2016

Land bank donates houses to B.C. fire department

(Photo: Trace Christenson/The Enquirer)

The house was real but not the smoke pouring from the second floor window, nor the young victim on the floor.

The child was a mannequin and the smoke was not toxic and the practice will be repeated now that the Battle Creek Fire Department has a permanent training structure. Two Battle Creek firefighters, Shawn Kelly and Josh Hager climbed a ladder and Hager entered the window, searching the bedroom on his hands and knees for any victims. He found a small child on the floor of a closet and handed him to Kelly, waiting on the ladder.

Firefighter Josh Hager hands a simulated baby to Shawn Kelly during a training Wednesday. (Photo: Trace Christenson/The Enquirer)

On Wednesday the Calhoun County Land Bank Authority announced it was donating a house at 249 Parish St. to the department as a permanent training site.

And as they are made available, several other buildings also will be used by the department for training before they are demolished.

“This will allow the fire department to better train to save lives and to save property,” said Christine Schauer, Calhoun County Treasurer and chair of the land bank.

She said the land bank has provided homes for training before demolition to the Albion and Sheridan fire departments.

But the house on Parish Street, along the Kalamazoo River west of Angell Street, will be a permanent site for the Battle Creek department, Schauer and Fire Chief David Schmaltz said.

“This is a realistic site and we can build muscle memory and make us better and more efficient at our jobs,” Schmaltz said. “It’s a house and that is what most of our fires are. This will be a big difference, crawling around in a house rather than on the bay floor of the fire station.”

Battleing simulated smoke, Josh Hager prepares to enterBattleing simulated smoke, Josh Hager prepares to enter a second floor window during training Wednesday. (Photo: Trace Christenson/The Enquirer)

He said furniture may be added to the house to better simulate conditions when firefighters arrive and have to pull hoses inside or search for possible victims.

He said firefighters can practice other techniques at the homes slated for demolition, including breaking windows, breaching the walls and cutting through the roof. “We are very limited at the station on what we can do,” Schmaltz said.

“This is the only permanent site,” Schauer said. “The other land bank houses, the worst of the worst, can be used to further wreck and then take them down. That will allow the fire department to do whatever training they want and then take them down.”

Officials said a fire damage restoration company, 1-800-BOARDUP, donated supplies to secure the Parish Street house and city crews cleared the lot of some trees to provide access for firefighters. The house is marked with a sign denoting it as a training site for the Battle Creek Fire Department.

Contact Trace Christenson at 966-0685 or
SOURCE: Battle Creek Enquirer