CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – It was a rare opportunity for firefighters in Canfield and surrounding fire districts on Monday when they got to participate in a training exercise at a commercial building.
The differences between a house fire and a business fire are almost innumerable. And for several of the firefighters at the old Arby’s on U.S. Route 224 in Canfield, it was their first time in a building like this.
Ben Baird is just 19 and has not yet graduated from high school. But he already is living one of his dreams.
“Been on a few calls but this is my first time putting a pack on and doing something like this,” Baird said.
He will start fire school in the summer. But in the meantime, training like he got on Monday is invaluable.
“It is craziness, but we have got some great guys on the fire department that are helping us through it and teaching us,” Baird said.
And for him, it is a family affair. His cousin is the Green Township fire chief, and his older brother works right alongside him.
“It is good for the community. We like to help our community and keep everybody strong,” Green Township firefighter Matt Baird said.
It is a feeling echoed by everyone at Monday’s training.
“They don’t get paid anything. They do it because they enjoy it. They are here training because it is part of their job as a volunteer,” Green Township Fire Chief Todd Baird said.
The Niles Restaurant Business Group donated the building for fire training, ahead of its demolition in the coming weeks.
“This is a good solid building. We get to cut holes in the roof, knock holes in the walls and drag hoses through. All the fun stuff,” Ellsworth Assistant Fire Chief Tom Powell said.
The fire at the former Arby’s on U.S. Route 224 had a lot of smoke, but no flames. That is because of EPA regulations.
“The EPA has made it too hard. We have to get an asbestos check done, which costs money. The fire departments don’t have the money to pay for that,” Chief Baird said.
So, they use theatrical style smoke for a similar effect, and practice rescues, providing mutual aid and roof work.
“It is as real as we can get out here without having a real fire,” Cardinal Joint Fire District Chief Don Hutchison said.
“It is a great learning experience,” Ben Baird said.
The Canfield Fire Department was in charge of the training. Ellsworth and Green Township fire departments also were there, along with several EMS teams.