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Firefighters deserve praise for work on area wildfires

June 8, 2012
The Mining Journal

We offer a salute to the many firefighters who have put themselves in danger to battle the blazes in the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and the Duck Lake area in the eastern Upper Peninsula.

The images that have emerged from those fires have shown the devastation left in the wake of the infernos. We can only imagine how challenging it has been for those striving to bring these destructive wildfires to a halt.

We also realize the Duck Lake Fire battle is ongoing and we wish all the best circumstances come to be so that blaze is finally 100 percent contained.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has said these fires are unusual for this early in the year. But with exceptionally warm temperatures in March and precipitation totals much below normal, the conditions were prime for such fires.

Unfortunately, more fires are possible as the heat again rises as meteorological summer hits its stride.

Which brings us to another note of thanks, this one directed jointly to Northern Michigan University and the City of Marquette.

Those two entities have worked together to turn the demolition of a campus building into training exercises for the Marquette Fire Department.

Carey Hall is serving as a live-fire training ground for the department. The drills are a blessing for the department.

"Seldom does an opportunity like this present itself," MFD Fire Chief Tom Belt told The Mining Journal. "It's a mostly non-combustible brick building, so it's perfect for training because we can simulate vigorously burning room and contents-type fires without worrying about it spreading.

"This is a unique opportunity to engage in a variety of firefighting skills under real conditions. We will not only practice extinguishment, but also forcible entry, ventilation, salvage, overhaul and search and rescue with dummies.

"We are grateful to Northern Michigan University for creating this great opportunity to hone our skills."

Indeed. The Marquette firefighters already do great work when called upon but this extra chance for training can only hone these skills even more.

Throughout the month, passersby may see smoke now and then from Carey Hall, but should take that sight as a sign all is well: Marquette firefighters are taking their responsibilities very seriously.

It would be wonderful if firefighters do not have to put into real-life use the skills they work on in training, but alas, fire is an unfortunate reality in our world.

Kudos to NMU and the Marquette Fire Department for working together to help keep our community a safer place.



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