County firefighting association to build training site

Shipping containers will be used to create a training facility for the Manistee County Firefighters Association, which will be located at the Manistee Township Fire Station. (Courtesy photo)

Shipping containers will be used to create a training facility for the Manistee County Firefighters Association, which will be located at the Manistee Township Fire Station. (Courtesy photo)

MANISTEE — Firefighters in Manistee County will soon be able to more easily and effectively flex their firefighting muscles.

The Manistee County Firefighters Association is building a training facility that will be available for all fire departments throughout the county. The total cost of the facility is about $23,000, of which $11,000 has been obtained through grants.

“Firefighting is a skill. Without constantly honing those skills, you lose those skills,” said Frank Post, who’s organizing the project. “It’s for seasoned firefighters to keep those skills up. If a firefighter is more proficient in doing things, he’s going be more confident in going into a structure and doing that rescue.”

Three shipping containers will be made to resemble a residential or commercial building for departments to use for training. The containers have already been purchased, and sit at Manistee Township Fire Station. The township fire department agreed to host the facility.

“Without that type of equipment, we use (a business or house), but we have to be so careful — we don’t want to tear the walls up or bang the place up,” Post said. “We’re always so careful about things, that it’s not real. Firefighters can train in the new facility, and not be too concerned about banging things — they’re steel, you’re not going to hurt them.”

Two of the shipping containers will be stacked to create a two-story building. There will also be an angled roof.

Inside the make-shift building, there will be stairs, furniture and other items to make the experience more real.

“We’ll fill it with theatrical smoke, and then it really creates the realism of what they deal with so they’re mentally equipped to deal with that type of environment when they’re doing firefighting,” Post said.

The extra, more realistic training will make firefighters more effective, he said.

“If they’re doing their job more efficiently, they can get in that house a little bit quicker and maybe make that save that they wouldn’t otherwise make an attempt because they don’t have the skills,” Post said.

However, the facility has a long way to go before it’s up and running.

The containers need to be stacked and arranged, footings need to be laid, railings for around the top need to be built and mounted and it needs to be painted, among other jobs.

Much of the work will be done by the various fire departments, Post said.

So far, the project is funded through a $5,000 grant from the Michigan Fire Fighters Training Council, and a $6,000 grant from the Manistee Local Revenue Sharing Board.

Post said the association will make another request to the revenue sharing board for the rest of the funds, about $12,000.

“We’ve never had a solid location to do training, and now we will have a place,” said Mike Cederholm, Arcadia fire chief and Manistee County Firefighters Association vice president. “We’ll be giving cadets as much of a real world experience as possible — it will be very close to real life without the burns.”

Previous training sites have sometimes been revoked from the associations’ use for a variety of reasons, he said.

“It’s going to be easier,” Cederholm said. “We won’t have to worry about someone taking the rug out from under us.”

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Posted by Justine McGuire

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