While it might seem like Wellesley firefighters have had more than their fair share of action of late, fighting several significant fires over the past couple of months while also navigating COVID-19 dangers, the opportunity to hone their skills at a currently vacant building in town was an offer too good to pass up.
The Hancock Group , owner of 40 William Street at Wellesley Office Park, offered firefighters the vacant building for training. Skills worked on included managing fire in a large office area, door breaching (forcing open locked or closed doors) and more .
“The opportunity to train in a building like this is rare,” says Chuck DiGiandomenico, Deputy Chief. “Sometimes we get houses that are ready to be torn down to train on but we never get a building like this. This training gives firefighters a chance to see the building construction, building systems and fire protection in place to prevent fire spread. This building has no hose outlets (standpipes) for firefighters to use so getting hose lines to the floors of that particular building poses a challenge.”
DiGiandomenico says the department used a fire engine pumper and Tower ladder truck for the training. “The engine company practices carrying charged hose lines up stairs, through hallways and into office spaces to extinguish a fire. They do about 5 evolutions in full turnout gear and using Scott air packs. The Tower ladder truck is practicing proper placement to access the roof and certain parts of the building, then go inside and use forcible entry tools to force open office doors.”
Half the shift (9 firefighters) trains in the morning and the other half does it in the afternoon. We split up the shift so half will train in the morning and the other half will do the training in the afternoon.
And of course this COVID-19 disclaimer: “We kept the groups small to keep social distancing guidelines and when our air packs are not in use we are wearing a face covering,” DiGiandomenico says, crediting Deputy Matt Corda for putting together a good plan.