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Salisbury Fire Department trains at site of future station

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Motorists who’ve driven along Mahaley Avenue lately, may have seen what looks like a wrecking crew demolishing three houses in the 100 block, across from Food Lion.

Only, it’s not a wrecking crew. The Salisbury Fire Department is getting the most out of the houses, using them for various training scenarios, before demolishing them to make way for the future Fire Station No. 3.

Last week, firefighters cut into interior and exterior walls of three houses and tore into the roofs. The homes are scheduled to be demolished in about a week.

“We’re using the building to practice,” said Battalion Chief Nick Martin.

He said the current training structures at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College allow some realistic scenarios, but none like taking an ax to a wall or being able to cut a hole in a roof. The training was timed to the demolition of the homes so the rubbish wouldn’t have to be on site for long.

The training is also an opportunity to see how older homes are built, he said. The three are similar in construction and age to many homes where Salisbury firefighters answer calls.

“If you know how it’s put together, then you know how to take it apart,” Martin said.

The current station No. 3,  on West Innes Street and built in 1957, has some structural problems. The new station will allow firefighters to cover a larger area. The station itself also will be larger in size and include an educational space for children to learn about fire safety.

Matt Atkinson is halfway through rookie firefighter school and took part in training on his own time. Atkinson is already a firefighter with the National Guard, but this opportunity to further his skills would not be available in rookie school.

He began fire training in January and is expected to complete it in July.

Atkinson said he appreciated the chance to see firefighters of varying skills and years working together.

The best way to learn is to just do it, he said.

On Friday, Engineer Jared Hoke explained to firefighters a number of scenarios and tools they could use to break through the exterior bricks. He timed them as everyone had a chance to take a sledgehammer to a wall.

“We’re doing this to better ourselves for the public. We train like it’s the real thing, and we prepare ourselves for the worst case,” said Lt. Ted Reaume.

The firefighters are always looking for training opportunities, which can include going into a home or building where they can do no damage or being able to tear into walls or burn a building intended for demolition.

Anyone who has an opportunity for the Fire Department to stage training exercises on their property or in a building or home can contact the Salisbury Fire Department at 704-638-5351.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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