Local firefighters are back in school again

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Tri-district personnel use abandoned buildings for drills

By Teresa Herriman

The Courier-Herald

Local firefighters smashed windows, pried open doors and cut through roofs during training exercises at Lake Tapps Elementary School last week.

Several buildings slated for demolition were used by tri-district career and volunteer personnel to conduct a series of day and nighttime drills.

The district will tear down the building and construct a replacement.

"The good thing about the large structure is everybody in the tri-district gets a chance to practice," East Pierce Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Dave Wakefield explained.

The drills allowed firefighters to practice forcible entry and ventilation techniques under situations similar to those routinely faced during a fire. The 19 doors and numerous windows at the school offered ample opportunity to practice using tools and specialized techniques needed when entering locked commercial buildings.

Non-toxic liquid smoke filled the buildings during search and rescue drills. Firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to locate heat sources and practiced rescuing a 120-pound mannequin.

Most importantly, Wakefield said, the training gave firefighters from the various stations a chance to work together.

Due to tight construction time lines and the expense of asbestos abatement, the group did not practice burning the structure.

"Even this is excellent training," Wakefield noted.

Teresa Herriman can be reached at

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