Ottumwa firefighters spent some time Friday training on how to respond to a fire at Ottumwa’s Pennsylvania Place assisted-living home.
Penn Place is unique in that firefighters would need to use Ottumwa’s Arial Unit, Tower 1, to get a hose to the upper floors of the building. The layout of the building would force firefighters to have to run hundreds of feet of hose to get up to the third story.
In addition to having multiple nozzles to spray water on a fire, Tower 1’s bucket is also equipped with a hookup for hoses to be connected as well.
Firefighters treated the training as if it was a real fire. They pulled into the lot with their lights on, quickly extended the outriggers on Tower 1, and within minutes had the basket to a balcony so they could run hose through the building.
“We try to make these trainings as realistic as possible,” Ottumwa Assistant Fire Chief Mike Craff told Ottumwa Radio News. “Using this method, we run hose line from the balcony of one apartment, through the hallway and into the burning apartment. Today it was about six and a half minutes from pulling in until we got into the simulated fire and put it out.”
Adding a four minute response time from the Central Station makes it about 10 minutes before firefighters can begin putting water on an upper story apartment fire.
“This building has sprinklers which would help keep any fire contained,” Craff said.
Unlike other tall buildings such as Ottumwa High School, The Harvester Building and each of the Ottumwa Housing Authority towers, Penn Place does not contain standpipes, which are a system of pipes running from a water supply to hose connections throughout the building.
The Ottumwa Fire Department routinely trains for situations that they may run into while responding to any incident.