Duncombe hosts Fire Department training

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — While the old Duncombe Elementary School building already witnessed its last young students learn the values of sharing, geography and long division, the building -- freshly stripped of asbestos -- has served as a place of learning during the last few days.

Courtesy of the Fort Dodge Community School District and the demolition contractor, the Fort Dodge Fire Department has been able to use the site to practice their skills.

Fire Chief Kent Hulett said the 100-year-old structure has features that offer the department some unique opportunities.

"They used different construction styles then," he said.

Another thing they encountered is a rather sturdy top on the building.

"There's a concrete roof," he said.

The Messenger (http://bit.ly/23GBTX1 ) reports that concrete roof is topped off with a flat wood roof covered with layers of tar paper, foam insulation, more tar and a layer of rocks. On Thursday, crews were practicing cutting through that sandwich to reach the 3-foot space below.

"They're going to be using power saws on it," he said.

Once the hole was cut out, the material had to be taken out of the 3-foot square. The boards under the layers of tar and foam were nailed to the joists.

A traditional muscle powered tool is used for that. Firefighters simply smashed the boards to bits with an ax sending chunks of splintered wood flying. Yes, they were having fun, too.

The three stories worth of stairs in the building also provided a training opportunity. Crews got to face the challenge of bringing a hose all the way to the top, something that requires a group effort with firefighters stationed along the route to make sure the hose doesn't catch and to help it lift it.

While the department didn't set any actual fires in the building, they were able to use a smoke generator to fill some of the rooms with smoke.

Crews were able to practice search and rescue techniques as well as ventilation methods.

"If there's a firefighter down," Hulett said, "how do we get up there to rescue them and get them down?"

While the department is able to do a great deal of training at the Iowa Central Community College fire tower, any time they can train in an actual building adds to their skill set, he said.

"Anytime we get an older building," he said. "It's excellent training."

Fort Dodge firefighter Loren Helgevold was among those training Thursday.

He's also a Duncombe alumni; he graduated in 1971.

It's been a while since he's been in the building.

"It's definitely smaller than when I was going here," he said.

He was happy the building was getting one last use, even if he wasn't sure if he was in one of his old classrooms or not.

"That's a long time ago," he joked.

Crews from all of the department's shifts have been able to train this week. When not on calls, firefighters spend a lot of time training.

"We try to keep up our skills," Hulett said.

One thing they won't have to do, though, is worry about making a mess. Crews are expected to begin knocking down the building next week.

"We don't have to worry about cleaning up after ourselves," Hulett said.

Even empty, with holes punched in the roof and walls, tile flooring removed and the bathroom fixtures stacked in rows in some of the classrooms, Duncombe is still a place to learn.

One last time.


Information from: The Messenger, http://www.messengernews.net

An AP Member Exchange shared by The Messenger

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Most recent U.S. stories

Related topics



    Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast