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Firefighters to Train at Baswell Hall

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More than 50 Russellville firefighters will engage in a training exercise on the Arkansas Tech University campus this week. Beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 26, and continuing each morning at 9 a.m. through Thursday, July 28, the Russellville Fire Department will conduct drills in and around Baswell Residence Hall that will test firefighters’ proficiency in basic firefighting skills, ability to operate a standpipe system and aptitude in utilizing a ladder truck. Doug Lewis, assistant chief and training officer with the Russellville Fire Department, said that training such as this helps the city maintain a good Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating. “There is a trickle down effect,” said Lewis. “Our ability to maintain our ISO rating has an impact on our city’s ability to attract industry. Plus, I like getting our guys out in the field. I can give them a paper test in the classroom, but 95 percent of what they do as firefighters is hands-on. We appreciate the assistance from Arkansas Tech to make this training exercise possible.” Baswell Residence Hall was a good location for the training because it is equipped with a standpipe system, which is a set of vertical pipes that allow firefighters inside a multi-story building to connect hoses to a water source much like they would connect to a fire hydrant outside a building. Kevin Solomon, assistant director of housing at Arkansas Tech, said that the small number of students currently residing in Baswell Residence Hall were notified of the training exercise so they will not be alarmed. No sirens will be used during the drills and the interior exercise will be confined to the stairwells and the fourth floor, which currently has no residents.