Demolition derby for Tisbury firefighters
Tisbury firefighters tore into a house slated for demolition at 229 State Road Tuesday night, practicing venting techniques off the roof and rescue techniques out of the basement. About 18 participated in the two-hour training drill, which started at 7:30 pm. "We learned a lot last night - it was extremely helpful," Fire Chief John Schilling said yesterday. "Some techniques worked, some didn't, and that's what we wanted to find out."
In talking about the planned drill on Tuesday morning, Chief Schilling said firefighters would focus on two scenarios. One involved the ladder crew of the E-1 Bronto fire truck practicing roof ventilation techniques while working off the platform of the truck's 100-foot articulated boom.
Photos by Ralph Stewart
"You can't simulate that," the chief explained. "This is an opportunity for them to get the platform out, work off the platform, use their roof saws, and see how that works. Those are training opportunities that you can't do in the firehouse. We can fill the place up with smoke and have guys crawl around and practice being disoriented and finding their way out, but we can't actually fire up the saws."
The second practice scenario involved rescuing a firefighter who had fallen through the floor to the basement. "This is a problem that occurs with newer construction with these engineered, laminated, processed beams," Chief Schilling said. "They fail at twice the rate of traditional beams, and so there has been a rash of collapses, not here but throughout the fire service, where firefighters are ending up hurt or getting killed in this scenario. We want to practice locating and pulling firefighters out of the basement."
Michael Ryan, owner of Island Woodworks Construction, offered to hold off on razing the old house to make way for a new one he is constructing, to give the fire fighters the chance to use it.
Mr. Ryan said Tisbury's building and zoning inspector, Ken Barwick, suggested the idea, as he does whenever he issues a demolition permit. As the brother of two firefighters who live in England, Mr. Ryan said he was glad to give the Tisbury firefighters the opportunity "to go bashing about."
"We greatly appreciate Mr. Ryan making his property available to us," Chief Schilling said. "We're trying to keep eyes open for opportunities down the road for any others that come along. Mr. Barwick has been a big help."
However, Chief Schilling said the fire department will not burn a house down for someone, due to stringent training rules and regulations that go along with conducting live burns, as well as air quality control issues. "We would love the opportunity to get in there and practice some of those techniques prior to a house being demolished - remove doors, remove windows, practice cutting roofs, drag charge lines with water in them through the house without worrying about doing any damage - that sort of thing," he said.