Clive, Iowa, Public Safety Team Uses Training Ground from Silverstar

This piece is published by SiouxFalls.Business.

When fire crews pulled up to a designated address, they found a house filled with theatrical smoke and the challenge of retrieving two manikins inside.

From there, it was on to the house next door, where they needed to throw up ladders and cut ventilation holes in the roof for heat and smoke.

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And finally, in front of a third house on the street, they hooked up to a nearby fire hydrant, entered a “super-heated” home and determined where the training “fire” was located based on thermal imagining and spray water.

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“We put them through a lot,” said Eric Kallem, deputy fire chief for Clive, Iowa, which is a suburb of Des Moines.

Kallem is used to scouring City Hall records, looking for vacant properties that could serve this kind of training purpose. But finding four homes side by side is the sort of jackpot he rarely gets.

“It’s crazy. Usually there’s one property here and there, but with this, you can set it up so many different ways, and it provides an element of reality in addition to not just the same layout each time,” he said.

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The property has been owned by Midwest Fidelity Partners since last year and has received approval from Clive to build a future Silverstar Car Wash.

“In the meantime, we were happy to allow the community to benefit from it,” co-founder and CEO Bryan Slama said. “It’s fantastic how many scenarios Clive police and fire trainees have been able to practice on these properties.”

One house “that was in rougher shape” was used for practicing breaking through walls and cutting holes in a roof, Kallem said.

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In another scenario, “we partnered with teams in Urbandale and Waukee to practice as though a firefighter had fallen through the floor and was trapped in the basement, and they had to figure out how to get the firefighter out through a tiny window in the basement, so that was a lot of work,” he said.

“Our regional tactical SWAT team also has gone out and done drills and allowed dogs to practice finding things in the homes or pretend as though they had to make entry and clear a home to ensure it was safe.”

The homes have been used so many times for training that it’s hard to keep track, he added.

“We did one over three days, which allowed us to bring in multiple shifts, and I know our police department is looking forward to doing even more,” Kallem said. “The owners have been great to work with.”

Training began last fall and is continuing this spring.

“We’re happy to work with our Clive public safety partners to make it available as long as possible,” Slama said. “We anticipate beginning demolition work on the property this year, but in the meantime, it couldn’t be put to better use.”