Firefighters to get hands-on training as Jeannette building to be torched

·2 min read

Jun. 11—Members of several local fire departments will get some hands-on commercial building fire training this weekend in Jeannette.

A building on the former Jeannette District Memorial Hospital property has been donated to the Jeannette Fire Department and will be burned Sunday. Fire Chief Bill Frye said the training is a great opportunity.

"This is going to be reality," he said.

Small pieces of movement have been visible recently at the 11.5 acre parcel that was purchased in 2016 by The Palms Communities, which operates The Palms at O'Neil in White Oak. CEO and president Craig Anlauf said he anticipates Suite 318, luxury independent living, could soon be available.

"That property's going to get developed hopefully over the next year or so," he said.

Improvements have been made to the exterior and windows of the six-story building. The interior will be next. Anlauf said he plans a gated senior community on the remaining part of the land.

The donated building set to be burned was used as doctors offices and a credit union, Frye said. Firefighters have already used the two-story structure for forcible entry and new tool training.

State fire academy instructors will be on hand Sunday to oversee the operation with 24 students. Jeannette will have 16 firefighters who will be joined by others from neighboring departments, including Grandview, Harrison City, Penn Borough and Hempfield.

Fires will be set in one room at a time, Frye said. Wooden pallets and straw will be ignited and then firefighters sent in. They will extinguish the flames and check in the walls for spreading fire.

"The commercial building adds another level of reality to it and something we don't get to see every day," he said.

The nearby Seneca Club has offered up use of its pavilion to help with firefighter rehabilitation, Frye said. Straw was donated by a Home Depot store in North Versailles. Jeannette EMS and Murrysville Medic One will be at the scene.

Jeannette District Memorial Hospital was bought by Excela Health in 2008, converted to an outpatient center in 2010 and closed the following year. The hospital, built in 1959, was demolished in late 2017 to make the site more attractive to potential developers. Other buildings remained.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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