Firefighters undergo rigorous training but training only goes so far. Often the first time a first responder is able to use the newly taught rescue techniques on real buildings, is during a real emergency.
The City of Mexico Beach has found a way to train its firefighters under actual conditions and repurpose an old city building. Last week the city council declared the old City Hall building as surplus, now it will be used for the benefit of the fire department. Due to mold and deterioration the building needed too much work to sell to the public. Search and rescue training sessions have already taken place in the building. Smoke machines fill the inside to simulate a burning home and dummies are placed inside for the firemen to rescue. According to City Manager Chris Hubbard, this use of the building will greatly benefit the city," Obviously Mexico Beach is a very small city and we have limited resources. So to have a building like this, it gives us an opportunity that a lot of larger cities and larger departments don't have." The fire department will begin using the building late next month so they don't turn their attention away from the busy tourist season. The building will actually be destroyed during the training process and the city plans to demolish it afterwards.