ANN ARBOR – The Ann Arbor Fire Department is hosting firefighters from cities in Southeast Michigan and Toledo this week for training in high-rise buildings in the South University area.
The department enlisted District Chief David McGrail of the Denver Fire Department to organize the trainings.
A published author, McGrail is one of the nation’s foremost experts on high-rise firefighting and hydrant-equipped buildings. Although the types of hydrants vary, they allow firefighters to fight fires in multi-story structures without having to run hoses to each story.
The AAFD had planned to start the trainings last year, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed them back. The project took years to prepare, said AAFD fire chief Mike Kennedy.
“We actually started this about three years ago,” Kennedy said. “For a long time we’ve known we needed to update our high-rise firefighting procedures and that goes hand-in-hand with the explosion of vertical growth in downtown Ann Arbor and all those high-rise buildings. additional height with standpipes.
“We’ve leapfrogged a quarter of a century by doing this. We have received very good support from the mayor, the city council and the city administration – it is a big investment.
Kennedy said firefighters from Ann Arbor Township, Chelsea, Pittsfield Township, Superior Township, Dearborn, Detroit and Toledo are participating in the four-day training.
In the afternoon, passersby can see trucks and firefighters in gear in the University Towers and inside the Forest Avenue parking garage as they perform dry and wet evolutions.
In the parking garage, crews simulated an apartment fire and practiced running a hose up several flights of stairs and attaching it to the riser. With the parking lot hydrant dry, AAFD had to supply pressurized water to the hydrant from one of its motors to reach the sixth floor.
Denver Fire Department Lt. Jeff Larson accompanied McGrail and led wet evolutions in the parking lot Thursday afternoon.
He commended the AAFD for taking steps to focus on high-rise firefighting as the urban landscape changes.
“Chief McGrail is training other departments across the country and I was fortunate enough to attend this one to help train the Ann Arbor Fire Department which is going through a transition,” Larson said. “It’s good that they realized they needed a fundamental change within their department.”
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