Watertown firefighters train at properties targeted for demolition

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 5:42 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Vacant properties owned by Samaritan Medical Center are giving the Watertown Fire Department a unique opportunity to train.

“We can only do so much in the fire station. Only so many times can you do a search for someone in a fire station. Only so many times can you do a search for somebody in a fire station that you’ve spent your career in,” said Watertown Fire Chief Matt Timmerman.

Friday and over the weekend, the department has the opportunity to practice search operations, running hoses, and cutting open roofs with its new battery-powered chainsaws. Overall, Timmerman says it’s a chance to brush up on old skills.

“The guys love getting out and doing things. Firefighters are kind of type A people. They’d rather be out doing something than sitting in the station and waiting, so they’re all happy,” he said.

“It’s not every day the department gets to practice a wall breach but since the properties are being demolished, firefighters can do whatever they want.

SMC spokesperson Leslie Distefano, says the hospital has a close relationship with the fire department.

“We’re constantly training and evolving. If we can offer a small piece or opportunity to do that we’re really excited about that. I think they were equally excited to be offered structures here in the city,” she said.

Once the structures are leveled, DiStefano says Samaritan will move forward with what’s next for the site.

“Nothing official at this point but really looking at all of the opportunities for what makes sense for this location and this sized space,” she said.

According to DiStefano, the houses are set to be demolished on Monday.