Dilapidated old structures that used to house Bodine's may be hard on the eyes, but area firefighters are finding them useful training tools.
Personnel from the Carson City and East Fork fire departments are using the empty buildings and trailers near the corner of South Carson Street and Old Clear Creek Road as temporary training sites.
Firefighters talked about what they learned during one group practice session on Friday afternoon inside a building that used to serve as a flower and gift store.
"It throws so many things at you," said Carson City firefighter Clint Hayes. "In a real fire, you'll have one or two of these things, but here you had six or seven."
The idea of this exercise was for firefighters to use the twisted length of a fire hose to make their way through an obstacle-riddled building before they ran out of oxygen. Their breathing masks were blackened so they couldn't see their way around. A lack of sight would happen if the building were actually filled with smoke.
Air tank alarms were going off as participants struggled to find their way outside before their oxygen supplies would have worn out if it had been a real structure fire. The firefighters weren't panicking. Being able to think clearly will help them stay alive in a life-or-death situation, said Battalion Chief Robert Charles, training officer for Carson City Fire Department.
They weren't reacting assertively enough when their lives - and their partners' lives - could have been in danger, however, Charles said.
"Communication, communication, communication," Charles emphasized. "We could have had two firefighters die."
The former Bodine's restaurant, with its wood roof, allowed firefighters to practice cutting vent holes in the roof. An old trailer, one among a score of others, provided the firefighters with a realistic place to practice search-and-rescue efforts. Old furniture was pulled from surrounding trailers and arranged as if someone lived there.
The two departments recently entered into a boundary-drop agreement. Personnel can cross over the Carson City-Douglas County boundary to respond based on how close they are to the people needing assistance. The jurisdiction in which the call originated used to be the primary factor, and location of emergency personnel came second.
More joint-training sessions are planned, Charles said.
Firefighters began exercises around the property on Thursday, continued Friday and will wrap up on Monday. The buildings are expected to be knocked down soon to make way for a new casino on the three-acre property.
Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.