ROCHELLE — If a fire should break out in a higher level Rochelle building in the future, the Rochelle and Ogle-Lee fire departments should have a better understanding of how to deal with it.
A joint emergency fire drill was held at the old Moore’s Hardware building last Thursday night, involving 50 members and eight emergency vehicles from Rochelle and Ogle-Lee stations of Creston, Steward, Flagg Center and Hillcrest.
“I don’t know what to call it,” fire chief Dave Sawlsville said. “We’re working on so many things.”
Among other things, the firemen worked on communications between between the dispatcher and the firemen, communications within the different fire departments, hose work and truck and hose placement. In front of the building, which dates back to the 1870s, the firemen used their ladder truck, and in the back ground ladders were used.
“The alley is too narrow for our truck,” Sawlsville said.
Zack Prewett, the coordinator of the drill, said there were two separate drills, one involving a simulated fire in one of the second floor apartments above the vacant store and another in the basement.
Prewett said the firemen reached the top of the stairs in the first scenario, but didn’t actually enter into the apartment. Water was not used in either scenario, which took about 40 minutes each.
Following the drill, Sawlsville said the firemen returned to the Rochelle Fire Station where they met in the basement to go over what went right and what could have been done better. With summer coming up, he said they will spend the next few months working to improve their procedure.
Both Sawlsville and Prewett said the departments like to hold such drills at least once a year, even more if they can.
Although they regularly drill on how to handle fires in normal homes and buildings, Pruitt noted that they don’t always get to drill on higher buildings such as the old Moore store, which he said is located in a “high hazard” area.
Since all the departments involved react together to local calls, Sawlsville added that it only makes sense for them to drill as much as they can together.
At least one of the dozen or so spectators who watched the drill – a teenage boy on a bike – was a little disappointed when he found out the firemen weren’t actually going to set a fire so they could put it out.
“It’s practice,” Sawlsville said.