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Marquette city firefighters hold trainings in apartment building set to be demolished

MARQUETTE — The faint smell of smoke lingered along Summit Street in Marquette this week, as firefighters from the Marquette City Fire Department worked to sharpen their skills in an apartment complex set to be demolished this summer.

The training sessions began Monday at the Summit Street Apartment buildings near Northern Michigan University’s campus, and will span through next week, covering various scenarios such as search and rescue, ladder work, ventilation, self-rescue techniques and more, said Capt. Dean Mallos.

“It’s very beneficial all the way around,” Mallos said. “We have new personnel in the department, so we’re building team unity and also testing out new equipment.”

Crews used a straw smoke generator inside the complex, creating a lot of smoke but not much heat to ensure the safety of those participating in the training.

Firefighter Brett Beaudry, a seven-year veteran at the department, said the training closely mocks a real-life structure fire in a high occupancy building.

“It’s about as close as we can get to live fire training without the real thing,” he said. “Fires aren’t really that common around here, so it’s important to keep up on our skills. A lot of the things were doing we don’t get to do every day.”

Beaudry said every crew member has a unique role when responding to fires. His main role, he said, is driving the truck and maintaining the water supply. The department has three shifts each day, with eight firefighters serving on each shift.

Training exercises are especially important, said Beaudry, because once a call comes in, the crew must be ready for anything.

“We train and train and train for months and months and months, and if you’re not ready, people can die,” he said.

When responding, he said the most important thing to do is remain calm and hash out any details prior to arriving at the fire.

“On the way to the scene, we’re getting into that mind-frame — we already have the route, and are figuring out where the nearest hydrant is … are there people in the house?,” Beaudry said. “So when we pull up, we’re ready.”

NMU granted the department use of the structure for training purposes.