Fire department hosting training exercise Saturday

CLINTON — Clinton Fire Department will host a multi-department fire training exercise on Saturday in a block planned for future development.

The block, bordered by White and Van Buren Streets on the north and south and Jackson and Grant Streets on the east and west, now is home to a number of vacant homes and three former businesses.  The square-block is being redeveloped by an Illiopolis company for a gas station / convenience store.

Fire department engineer Blake West said it would be a rare opportunity for firefighters to train using an entire city block.  No live fire will be used in the exercise, but smoke machines will be used for training purposes.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work to organize the groups that are going to train there,” West told the city council on Monday.  The training is scheduled for 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’ve invited 25 departments from our (mutual aid) division,” West said.  “Approximately 700 firefighters.”

Even with that many personnel training, West said the exercise would not disrupt the area apart from the occasional sound of chainsaws.  He said the exercise would not affect traffic.

West and city commissioner Dan Ballenger met with several area fire chiefs in preparation for the training.

“We had a planning meeting on the training, and a lot of thought has gone into it,” West said.

Instructors from the area will conduct the training.  There will be a series of training stations, and each firefighter will be able to pick three to work on during the day.

Those training also will have the opportunity to train using equipment they may not have used before.

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