Re-worked buildings in downtown bring challenges for Youngstown Fire Department

Youngstown Fire has gotten new equipment to fight fires in high-rise buildings, and is training crews on how to use it

Fire trucks, downtown. Jan. 8, 2016
Youngstown Fire Department trucks outside the Metropolitan Tower building downtown. There was a small fire on the 8th floor. Jan. 8, 2016

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Fire Department answers 300 fire calls each year and nearly all of them are at one or two-story houses. Fire crews don’t have much experience with fighting a fire in a taller building like the ones downtown.

With more people moving downtown, there are more chances a fire could break out seven stories up.

“With more and more of those buildings being reworked, or just even with the resurgence of businesses coming downtown, we see a lot of the buildings are being retrofitted,” said Battalion Chief Jimmy Drummond.

In July, Chief John O’Neill said the department’s ladders will not reach the upper floors on some of the tallest buildings, posing a major problem if one catches fire.

Since then, Youngstown Fire has gotten new equipment to fight fires in high-rise buildings. Now that they have the proper equipment, firefighters have to be trained on how to use it.

For many firefighters in the department, it’s their first time doing this training.

“A lot of the buildings downtown, if we were to have a fire in them, it’s just a total different scenario that you work,” Drummond said.

There is no way to attack a fire in a large building from the outside, so firefighters have to go inside to put it out.

Everything takes a longer amount of time, from finding the fire to figuring out how to knock it down. Every second counts because in high-rises, fires can double in size every 30 seconds.

There’s also the difficulty of calling out dozens of firefighters at once. Every person is needed if one of these towers catches fire, and everyone has to work together.

“You need a lot of manpower,” Drummond said. “If it was anything of any significance, we’d definitely have to be calling mutual aid.”

Armed with new equipment and extensive training, Youngstown’s firefighters will be ready to answer the call.



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