MANOR – Members of various local fire departments were training for horrible tragedy last night at the former Friendship/Rodeway Inn in Manor Township.
The instructors of the training exercise arranged for a car to smash through the window of one of the motel rooms. The car not only had pretend passengers that had to be extricated, but also a mock occupant who was in the room at the time of the accident.
Kittanning Hose Company #6 Fire Chief Scott Kline explained the exercise.
“We simulated a vehicle which went into the structure causing structural damage. It starts to be a slow operation to make sure the building is secure for the rescuers to go in and make the rescue out of the vehicle. Our Special Operations team – the Host Team of Armstrong County – Bill Hamilton put his team together and offered his services to come up. They shored the building up to stabilize the walls and the roof above for us to work in. Once they got the building secured for us, Manor Township started working this side of the vehicle on the passenger side to go in and remove the doors so they could get the victims out of that side. The other rescue team, Kittanning Hose Company #6 and Kittanning Township, started on the other side. We had to breach a fire wall of cement block. They then took the doors off the other side of the vehicle to make that rescue out of that side. Once it was all done, we simulated that there was a victim inside (the motel room) when the car went through the building. We have a manikin underneath the car. When the operations get finished up here, we will take a small break, the guys will go in to assess the car, shore the car up a little better, then use air bags to make the victim recovery from underneath the vehicle.”
Manor Township Fire Chief Chad Evans coordinated the event.
“It took a lot (of coordination) between the (current) owner of the Rodeway Inn now and Scott Kline. We got coordination between the Armstrong County Host Team and we also talked to Kittanning Township about coming out to drill with us.”
Fire crews have already done several other exercises at the old motel, including rescuing a person on the roof. Evans said in a few weeks, they will actually set the building on fire for a training exercise.
“We are coming back here on (August) 19-20 to actually do a live fire training. Hopefully we are going to get a couple of good fires out of this place. Obviously safety is going to be the number one concern. We will constantly monitor the steel girders and make sure they are not getting too overheated or warping.”
The training is being overseen by Butler County Community College. A maximum of 30 students may participate to receive credit for attending. However, Evans said that with instructors and arsonists, he expects as many as 60 people involved on both days.
With fire fighters signed up from Manor Township and Kittanning Hose Company #6, most of the slots are filled for students. However there are several slots still available.
“We do have a few open spots where invited Kittanning Township and then a few others,” Evans said.
It took considerable time as well as finances to conduct the training.
“To host the class was $900 for BC3, and a lot of paperwork through the state fire commissioner and DEP (Department of Environmental Protection).”
The former motel is slated for demolition following the training exercises. A modern strip mall will replace it that will include offices and an Italian restaurant.