Rock Island firefighters take on rare opportunity to practice real-life scenarios in vacant homes

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – The Rock Island Housing Authority along with their non-profit affiliate, Community Home Partners, announced Tuesday funding was approved for a new housing development.

The new neighborhood is where the vacant Lincoln Homes complex sits off 5th Avenue. Currently, it’s rows of 37 homes built back in the 1950’s, but before they are demolished the homes are being put to good use through the Rock Island Fire Department.

“We don’t really get these chances often around here to train in actual live buildings,” says firefighter Adam DeBroeck. “Other than an actual structure fire we don’t get the opportunity too often.”

Typically, when firefighters respond to a fire, they are entering a building they have never been in before. So, when the opportunity arose to use the vacant Lincoln Homes for real-life scenarios, firefighter Bob Graff had to take it up.

“This is real life to us over here,” says Graff. “This is very very rare for us, maybe the third time in 20 years?”

The real-life training is filled with different obstacles and scenarios.  Some firefighters must move furniture, breach through dry wall, and battle clouds of smoke.  The scenarios differ from practicing saving victims, to practicing saving each other in a fire.  It’s all to get them as much experience as possible.

“It’s as close as we can get it,” says firefighter Anthony Schooley. “When we smoke them up like this, we get a little disoriented.”

“The fact the city is letting us use these building before they demolish them is actually pretty neat,” DeBroeck comments.

The Rock Island Fire Department will be out at Lincoln Home the next three weeks practicing different scenarios before they are demolished.  In their place the Rock Island Housing Authority has plans to build a neighborhood of 46 duplex and single-family homes.

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