Nuisance becomes valuable tool
Training opportunities such as the one offered at the former site of America's Best Value Inn and Suites only come along once or twice in a career.
Or so Washington Township Fire Department Training Manager John Nicols said this week when staff from three different fire departments practiced forcible entry at the former hotel on Frantz Road.
Washington Township was given the opportunity to train at the hotel until it is demolished sometime next month.
The hotel closed in 2011 because of numerous health- and fire-code violations.
"A building like this doesn't come open very often in a career," Nicols said.
This week crews from Washington Township, Norwich Township and Pleasant Valley used saws, axes and halligan tools to open doors and windows. A Halligan tool is a multipurpose bar usually with adz, pick and claw heads used for prying, punching and twisting.
"It really is invaluable," Washington Township Battalion Chief William Lynn said of the training opportunity.
"You may get this kind of opportunity once or twice in a career," he said.
"They gave us this opportunity for four to six weeks. A house has only one or two doors. There are 140 doors to force open here."
Although forcible entries are utilized often -- especially when fire departments are called to late night fires -- Nicols said crews don't often have the chance to do them outside emergencies.
"It's really common when you have a three in the morning report of a house fire," Nicols said. "You don't know if people are in there and their smoke detectors didn't go off.
"You have to go in and search."
Crews broke windows, forced doors open and even cut the area below the windows open for training. Lynn said the walls are often cut to aid firefighters in rescue, especially when they have to help each other.
"It speeds up rescue," he said.
The former Best Value Inn site will also be used to train firefighters on creating ventilation holes in the roof. The makeup of the former hotel makes the training valuable, Lynn said.
"It's an older hotel so it's close to a home, because it's made of wood," he said. "New hotels are made of concrete."
Last week crews used the site to practice water line deployment.
"We can flow as much water as possible here," Lynn said. "You only get to do that at parking garages."
The site will also be used to practice a new command system.
"The property manager told us to take our time on it," Nicols said. "We'll take full advantage of it until the bulldozers are here."
Washington Township Fire Department is a regional training center for others, but the local departments on site for training at the former hotel are there because of a mutual aid agreement. The Pleasant Valley (Plain City) and Norwich (Hilliard) departments help with calls in Dublin and Washington Township provides assistance as needed in other communities.
"We can train with different people and learn different techniques," Lynn said. "It's just another tool for your toolbox."