Firefighters Train in NMU House Set for Demolition
Two vacant NMU-owned houses bordering campus will be demolished sometime between Nov. 17-26. They are located at 1716 Schaffer Ave. and 2075 Sugarloaf. Before the latter home is taken down, the Marquette Fire Department is using it for training exercises this week and next. Firefighters are not burning the structure; only creating a smoky environment to simulate visibility challenges they may encounter and to practice a variety of operations and techniques.
Jim Thams (Engineering and Planning) said both homes are located adjacent to campus and had been identified in the 2008 Campus Master Plan as properties that could support future development. So when they became available several years ago, Northern acquired them.
“The houses were in relatively good shape at the time of purchase, so rather than tear them down then, the university rented them out to help offset the purchase cost,” Thams said. “Both became vacant early this fall. When we did a cost-benefit analysis and realized that renting them again would require new roofs and other maintenance upgrades, it did not make sense to invest more money when the ultimate plan was to demolish them and repurpose the land for another use. Each lot will be turned to green space, as there are no immediate plans for the property.”
NMU bid out the demolition and the project was awarded to Associated Constructors. The company was required to submit a 10-day notification to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality before any work can begin. The earliest potential start date is Nov. 17. Once the project is underway, Thams said it shouldn’t take more than a week to complete.
Lee Gould (Public Safety) informed the Marquette Fire Department that the houses were going to be leveled, just as he did before Carey Hall was demolished. As a volunteer firefighter himself, he recognized the training potential and determined the Sugarloaf home—between the Services Building and Tourist Park—had a better layout.
“These are the crews who respond to fire calls on campus, so it makes sense when a building isn’t being used for anything else and is about to be destroyed to offer it up as a training site so they can get a better feel for the real thing and exercise their skills.”
MFD Captain Dean Mallos was eager to take advantage of the limited window of opportunity: “We don’t have a formal training tower or facility, so anytime we can get into an existing structure, it makes a fantastic training aid. We’re able to run things at real time, refine our technique and evaluate where we’re at to direct our future training. It’s also a good team-building experience. We have a lot of young firefighters, so this allows them to work together and become more proficient. The partnership we’ve had with Northern the last couple years with the two buildings has been great.”
Firefighters practice a variety of techniques. They will also gain more experience using hand-held infrared imagers that help orient them to the rooms they enter, identify the seed of a fire and enhance search-and-rescue efforts.