GARY NEW DULUTH, MN — Preparing for real-world emergencies through hands-on practice. That’s what Lake Superior College is doing as they put their new Emergency Response Training Center to the test for the very first time.
The college is host to a special statewide firefighter training program this weekend, which serves as the first opportunity for students to train in the new three-story training building.
“We’ve purchased these re-purposed shipping containers, and then we’re basically building a building like LEGOs out of shipping containers,” Lead Burn Instructor Damon Laurion said.
North of Hinckley, instructors say there’s nothing quite like it.
“The city of Duluth doesn’t have a training facility to go through live burns, so it is very unique to be able to do this,” Laurion said.
Program instructors have built the facility to simulate a common situation for firefighters, where commercial storefronts are on the first floor and apartments are on the second and third floors.
“We want it to be realistic and as relevant as we can make it,” Laurion said. “We also want it to be readily accessible so that we can set up simulations and run from start to finish over and over and over.”
In the past, donated trailer houses and an old acquired structures were used.
“That’s offsite. That’s something we would do once a year,” Laurion said. “This is something that we can do onsite, everyday. We can give a lecture in the classroom and immediately come down and apply what they’re learning, and put their hands on those skill sets and do it over and over and over.”
Now with a building on their own turf, instructors say students will be more readily equipped for any dangers that might come their way.
“We want the emergency responders to have the skills that they need to mitigate the problem,” Laurion said.
Helping keep the community safe.
“For the firefighters to be able to come out here and go in a window, break open a door, spray water, and diagnose where the fire is, and be able to do that over and over and over, it just makes them that much prepared in the event of the real thing happening,” Laurion said.