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posted: 11/18/2013 12:04 PM

Old house sacrificed for fire department training

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  • The Des Plaines Fire Department put holes in the roof to ventilate the "fire" inside the White Street House at Arndt Park.

      The Des Plaines Fire Department put holes in the roof to ventilate the "fire" inside the White Street House at Arndt Park.
    Courtesy of Lisa Haring

  • Firefighters filled the house with "theater smoke" to represent the real thing.

      Firefighters filled the house with "theater smoke" to represent the real thing.
    Courtesy of Lisa Haring

  • Des Plaines Fire Department personnel train on the roof.

      Des Plaines Fire Department personnel train on the roof.
    Courtesy of Lisa Haring

 
Submitted by the Des Plaines Park District

The Des Plaines Fire Department has completed its fire training and safety exercises at the vacant house at 1946 White St., on the Arndt Park property owned by the Des Plaines Park District. The house is being torn down this week, and the land will be cleared, graded and reseeded to make more green space in the park.

The house, meanwhile, provided an opportunity for firefighters to train under realistic conditions, practicing firefighting and other techniques that are used to save lives and property.

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The Des Plaines Park District acquired Arndt Park and five parcels of land over 16 years, from May 1961 through December 1977. The final piece, the house, was bought in May 2008, and was rented out until this year.

"Arndt Park is a one of our most popular and busiest parks, especially on the weekends," said Don Miletic, assistant executive director. "Families come to grill and picnic; we host parties, classes and meetings in the field house; soccer groups come out to play games in the fields; and the diamonds are occupied with teams all summer and fall."

When the last tenant moved out, the park district agreed to give the Des Plaines Fire Department access to the house for training exercises before the scheduled demolition.

Firefighters didn't just destroy the house, they also trained on safe evacuation maneuvers and search and rescue drills using training smoke. On Nov. 8, however, they turned "destructive," breaching the roof, walls and ceilings and knocking out windows. Firefighters also practiced accessing the roof peak using climbing methods, as well as performing controlled slides to flat surfaces.

They practiced hose-deployment drills: Pulling the hoses from the engines to and into structures, and practiced coordinating fire attack operations among engines and ladder trucks.

"The opportunity to use actual structures for training purposes is invaluable to our personnel in maintaining their skills and developing new ones, which will be beneficial during emergency operations," said Fire Chief Alan Wax in a park district news release. "We are most appreciative to the park district and its board of directors for their willingness to allow us to train on this structure.

"This has been another great example of two separate Des Plaines governmental organizations collaborating for the benefit of all."

Miletic said the area where the house stands will be replaced by green space, "until planning and community input is obtained to enhance the park for additional recreational purposes.

To see photos of the Arndt Park amenities, or for more information about neighborhood parks, visit www.DPParks.org or call (847) 391-5700.

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