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College Station firefighters tear up old city hall for rescue training

Posted at 8:40 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 21:40:07-05

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The old College Station city hall is soon to be demolished, with the first steps of the process starting Thursday morning. But throughout the week it’s been of use to the community in a very unique way, one last time.

Shattered glass, walls filled with ax holes, kicked-down doors, and simulation theater smoke were behind every corner of the former city hall building on Texas Avenue. For the past three days, dozens of firefighters have been performing mayday rescues of their colleagues in the hallways.

"Crews who are stationed at the stations near this location have pre-planned this building, and we’re familiar with it as city employees," said CSFD Capt. Stuart Marrs. "But we haven’t seen it like this. We haven’t seen it full of smoke, lights off, with the offices empty."

While firefighters in the Brazos Valley have many props and tools for training in-house and through the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service [TEEX], working in a large office space like this is something different.

“There are a lot of things we’ve learned," said CSFD battalion chief Josh Varner. "I think we’ve done maybe 18 scenarios, and you know, we have a script, but we’ve never been able to go the exact same way in all 18 scenarios.”

It’s been almost nine years since the Knights of Columbus lodge fire in Bryan, which killed two local firefighters. Though these types of scenarios don’t happen every day, being able to practice them well is critical.

“Some of the people here today were at that fire, were on scene at that fire," said Marrs. "So being able to practice the mayday communications and mayday protocols in a safe environment... is a big benefit.”