College Station Firefighters conduct special training at former City Hall before demolition

For three days this week, firefighters have been rotating through special training at the vacant former city hall.
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:44 PM CST
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - There were chaotic scenes at the former College Station City Hall this week, but it was for an important purpose. The now vacant building was a special training site for the department’s firefighters.

With smoke and alarms ringing, College Station firefighters got as close to the real thing as possible for some training before the building is demolished.

It’s not every day firefighters get to use a vacant building in this way. Some of their training has included breaking through drywall. Firefighters were met with thick smoke, poor visibility and the deafening sound of fire alarms ringing inside.

“We’ve created a challenging working condition in here,” said Captain Stuart Marrs, of the College Station Fire Department. “We’ve got staged smoke or theater smoke in there. We’ve filled it up so you really can’t see more than a few inches in front of your face so you’ve got to rely on feel.”

Marrs took us through the exercise inside. At times the smoke was so thick you had to use special thermal imaging cameras.

“We don’t get the opportunity to practice in big buildings like this so, this is a commercial type property that we can create some real live firefighting scenarios in low visibility. We’ve been doing some mayday training in here so it’s just been a really good opportunity to be able to work,” said Chief Richard Mann, of the College Station Fire Department.

The department regularly trains its firefighters and this scenario gives them an opportunity to see how they are performing.

“This is definitely one of those very, very high rise, very low frequency type of events and those are the ones we really want to focus our training on; high risk, low frequency so that we can be prepared for it,” said Mann.

“The chiefs are out here evaluating the firefighters as they come through making sure that we’ve hit all the steps and doing everything we need to do,” said Marrs.

Training ended Wednesday afternoon and they rotated all of their firefighters through the exercise around 20 at a time. The former city hall will be torn down in the coming weeks.

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