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WLFD prepares for upcoming high-rises

The addition of three high-rise buildings will change West Lafayette's skyline. But the buildings are also changing the way crews put out fires.

Posted: Nov. 16, 2017 5:50 PM
Updated: Nov. 16, 2017 6:28 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The addition of three high-rise buildings will change West Lafayette's skyline. But the buildings are also changing the way crews put out fires.

News 18 spoke with West Lafayette firefighters about adapting to the possible challenges of high-rises.

The Hub Plus is one of three high-rises under construction.

While the height of the buildings could pose new challenges for firefighters, West Lafayette crews say they're ready.

"It's new. New things are kind of scary, but for the fire service in general, we're always getting new things. We're always adapting to new things," said Lieutenant Eric Doyle.

He says the newest thing to adapt to is preparing to fight fires in the new high-rises around West Lafayette.

While the department is not used to 16 story buildings, he says it is used to training in buildings with a lot of square footage.

"We've always done training in that aspect. So it's a general training, if you will, and then we review the certain plans of what might make that a challenge in each building," said Doyle.

Building commissioner Chad Spitznagle says fire code requires sprinkler systems and other measures that will make it easier on firefighters.

"The high-rise buildings are required to have fire suppression systems in each unit and in every room. So that alone is a good safety measure," said Spitznagle.

Positive pressure ventilation in the buildings will keep stairwells and elevator shafts free from smoke.

Radio signal amplifiers will ensure firefighters never lose contact.

But there's one thing Doyle says will always be hard on crews.

"Getting there. For us to get up to the higher floors. So that's a challenge," said Doyle.

The department has invested in lighter air packs, straps to carry air bottles and bags to carry other gear.

All of these will help lighten the load and allow for an easier response.

"They're going to be safe communities to live in, and they're going to be well protected," said Doyle.

Doyle says crews have also been training at the Wabash Landing Parking Garage.

He says the height of the garage helps prepare them for what a fire would be like in a high-rise.

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