New MSTC fire tower safe place to train firefighters

September 25, 2013

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “New MSTC fire tower a safe way for emergency service personnel to learn” — By Karen Madden – GRAND RAPIDS — A new training tool at Mid-State Technical College will allow firefighters to practice basic to complex skills in a safe environment, according to officials.

Members of both career and volunteer fire departments helped design the campus’s new fire tower, said Barb Jascor, MSTC associate dean and fire training coordinator. It was important to the school to get input from fire departments in designing the new tower to make sure it met the needs of all central Wisconsin fire departments, as well as the needs of students.

On Monday, Wisconsin Rapids firefighters trained in the new tower for the first time. Until MSTC built its fire tower, Wisconsin Rapids firefighters traveled to Rome to train on the Rome Fire Department’s tower, Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department Captain Chuck Peters said.

“To be able to have this in our city is such an asset, not only to our department, but to Mid-State, as well,” Peters said.

The caliber of the new tower’s equipment rivals any that Peters has seen. Not only firefighters, but emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officers, will be able to use the tower to practice realistic scenarios in a safe environment, he said.

Rescuers can practice getting a patient down from the building’s third floor, Peters said. A basic medical issue can become much more difficult when EMTs have to get a patient down stairs, he said.

The tower contains two rooms where firefighters can practice putting out live fires, Jascor said. One is larger and can be used to simulate a living room or other large-room fire. A smaller room would be similar to a fire in a bedroom, Jascor said.

The second floor of the tower contains walls that can be moved to create different layouts. The ability to change the floor plan will keep firefighters from getting too accustomed to what they’ll find when they enter the tower for a training exercise, Jascor said.

The three-story tower has multiple doors in each room, window openings and both an inside and outside staircase, allowing many different types of training scenarios, Jascor said. An enclosed ladder on one side of the building is meant to simulate what firefighters would encounter in a silo or some factories.

Pittsville Fire Chief Jerry Minor said his department encounters situations such as the enclosed ladder frequently. Minor, who was a member of the committee that planned the tower, said the ladder is one of the things he asked to be included in the training structure.

“There are a lot of different options with this building,” Minor said. “I think we looked at about every conceivable option we could think of.”

Committee members toured many fire tours, Jascor said. They talked to fire departments and schools about what worked and what didn’t work, she said.

“The project was truly a collaborative effort,” Jascor said.

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