In the last three months of 2012, the Kent Fire Department was given a special opportunity to conduct training under live fire conditions in the Kent State University-owned Allerton Apartments. This was the first time in nearly a decade that we have been able to conduct a series of fires in an acquired structure of any type, let alone multiple apartment complexes. Working hand in hand with KSU's Construction Manager Todd Shaffer from the Architect's Office and Ryan Wisecarver from Russ James Construction (the demolition contractor), we were able to organize training that started in October and went through December.
We had quite a bit of interest from other fire departments as well, with firefighters coming from as far away as Youngstown, Mentor, Columbus and everywhere else in between. We ended up with 11 different counties being represented and 29 individual fire departments. The total number of firefighters that participated in the 70 individual live fire evolutions was approximately 270. In total, we accumulated nearly 1,200 hours of continuing education. Unbelievable!
The topics, skills and drills included fire attack, hoseline advancement, multiple hoseline management, search and rescue of civilians, forcible entry, ventilation, laddering, incident command and Mayday scenarios involving trapped firefighters. The Portage County Urban Search and Rescue Team also conducted several hours of training that involved breaching, bracing and shoring walls in a mock building collapse/trapped civilian scenario. The USAR team responds locally and regionally to large scale incidents such as building collapses, tornados and other natural disasters that involve specialized training, equipment and resources.
Of course all of this would not have been possible without Kent State University, especially Mr. Shaffer, who went above and beyond with coordinating this effort. This is the second time in 18 months that Mr. Shaffer and Kent State have provided us with a training opportunity, the last time being at the Heer Hall renovation project, where we trained for two months. What a great example of how the city and university can work together to better our community. We also had a lot of support from area businesses that provided the necessary materials to make this happen including Belfor Property Restoration (Akron area), Taylor Construction, Montgomery Pallet (Shalersville) and KAPCO of Kent.
I would also like to thank the residents who live in the Allerton Street area for putting up with our "controlled chaos" for the better part of three months. The training and experience we gained from these trainings directly impacts the fire department's performance and increases everyone's safety in our community. Thank you for your patience and support.
If anyone has any further questions about the fire department or its training, please feel free to contact me anytime. Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to make this happen.
Fire Training Coordinator,
City of Kent Fire Department