Firefighters rip Zero Gravity roof during training before demolition

 
 
Updated 8/3/2016 6:51 PM
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  • Firefighter Dave Fazio, Lt. Paul Sherrod and firefighter Bill Kelly from the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District work on creating a ventilation hole in the roof during a training session at the former Zero Gravity teen dance club in Woodridge. The building is set to be demolished soon to make way for a senior living facility.

      Firefighter Dave Fazio, Lt. Paul Sherrod and firefighter Bill Kelly from the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District work on creating a ventilation hole in the roof during a training session at the former Zero Gravity teen dance club in Woodridge. The building is set to be demolished soon to make way for a senior living facility. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Firefighter Bill Kelly and Lt. Paul Sherrod lift the rubber membrane of the former Zero Gravity teen dance club in Woodridge during a training exercise on Wednesday.

      Firefighter Bill Kelly and Lt. Paul Sherrod lift the rubber membrane of the former Zero Gravity teen dance club in Woodridge during a training exercise on Wednesday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Lisle-Woodridge firefighters climb to the rooftop of the former Zero Gravity teen dance club Wednesday in Woodridge during a training exercise. Before the building is torn down to make way for a senior living facility, developers allowed the fire district to use it for roof ventilation, large area search and forced entry drills.

      Lisle-Woodridge firefighters climb to the rooftop of the former Zero Gravity teen dance club Wednesday in Woodridge during a training exercise. Before the building is torn down to make way for a senior living facility, developers allowed the fire district to use it for roof ventilation, large area search and forced entry drills. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Lisle-Woodridge firefighter Gary Pec saws a ventilation hole Wednesday in the roof of the former Zero Gravity teen dance club in Woodridge.

      Lisle-Woodridge firefighter Gary Pec saws a ventilation hole Wednesday in the roof of the former Zero Gravity teen dance club in Woodridge. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • A crew from the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District takes its turn Wednesday training to cut holes in commercial building roofs by practicing at the former Zero Gravity teen dance club before it's torn down.

      A crew from the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District takes its turn Wednesday training to cut holes in commercial building roofs by practicing at the former Zero Gravity teen dance club before it's torn down. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • A four-story building with 76 assisted living apartments and 24 memory care units for people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia is expected to be under construction within the next three months at 75th Street and Route 53 in Woodridge.

    A four-story building with 76 assisted living apartments and 24 memory care units for people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia is expected to be under construction within the next three months at 75th Street and Route 53 in Woodridge. Courtesy of Cedarhurst Living

First it was a teen dance club, home of foam parties and rave music.

Now it's a firefighter training ground, home of the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District, fire hoses, ladder trucks, axes and saws.

Soon it'll be an assisted living and memory care facility, home of seniors in 100 units to be built as Cedarhurst of Naperville/Woodridge.

The Zero Gravity building at Route 53 and 75th Street in Woodridge is set to be demolished soon, but developers let the fire district step in first to practice skills such as commercial roof ventilation, large area searches and forceful entries.

"We delayed the demolition as a courtesy to the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District," said Joshua Jennings, CEO of Missouri-based Cedarhurst Living. "They asked us if they could perform drills there and it sounded like a great way to begin our relationship with the first responders."

Firefighters began their training at the site last weekend, taking three days for each shift of personnel to complete each type of exercise. It's helpful to have a real building on which to practice, especially one that doesn't need to be kept in good condition, Deputy Chief Keith Krestan said.

"We're able to practice deploying hose lines into buildings like that and actually flowing water instead of faking it or pretending," he said.

Wednesday's work allowed firefighters to gain experience cutting a hole in the roof of a commercial building to ventilate or access the structure. Standing atop the roof, they used axes and hand saws to cut through layers including a rubber membrane, fiberboard, tar, gravel and metal supports.

It's a process firefighter/paramedic and training assistant Josh Turen described as "labor intensive" and quite different from the work of cutting into a residential roof.

"We rarely get to practice live on roofs like this, so it's a great opportunity," Turen said.

Cedarhurst officials said a demolition date has not yet been set, but the work is expected to take place soon so construction can begin on the senior living facility.

On a 6-acre site adjacent Greene Valley Forest Preserve, the four-story facility will include 76 independent living apartments, 24 memory care units and 8,600 square feet on the ground floor for commercial uses complementary to the needs of seniors, such as physical therapy, rehabilitation, medical testing or doctor's offices, according to a report from the Woodridge community development department.

The site has been subdivided into three lots -- the majority for the Cedarhurst building with two out lots along Route 53 for future retail development.

Seniors interested in living at Cedarhurst Naperville/Woodridge can get information through the company's contact form at http://cedarhurstliving.com/contact/.

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