By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Fire trucks swarmed to the parking lot of the abandoned Sears Auto Center building last Wednesday morning, and Johnson City Fire Department personnel emerged from the fire engines in full protective gear to engage in some valuable training.
The building, which is slated to be torn down later this summer, served as a proving ground for firefighters, who were able to cut through a garage door, scale the roof and perform other crucial skills during the simulated emergency. Lt. Pete Sanders of the JCFD, who led the exercise on Wednesday morning, said it was rare for the JCFD to get a chance to work inside a commercial building, especially in the midst of a bustling environment like the one in the heart of the North Roan Street district.
David Bell, district chief for the JCFD, said most firefighters never get to enter a commercial building like the Sears Auto Center until they are in the midst of an actual emergency. He said Wednesday’s exercise was invaluable because the department would get to assess the performance of its personnel and identify any areas that need work and shore them up.
By the end of last week, all three shifts of JCFD personnel had a chance to train at the Sears Auto building.