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Wis. FFs credit training in rescues of 11 from burning apartment building

Janesville firefighters had conducted a training exercise at the same complex the day before the fire

By Laura French

JANESVILLE, Wis. — Wisconsin firefighters who rescued 11 people from a burning apartment building last month said good training was the key to their success.

Janesville firefighters had coincidentally conducted a training exercise at the same apartment complex just one day before a fire ripped through the building on March 28, according to the Janesville Gazette. Fire department officials said the experience of training in a real structure, especially the same structure, was instrumental in the lifesaving operation.

Firefighters pulled 11 trapped people from the building in less than nine minutes, five of which were rescued via ladders from second and third-floor windows, according to Janeville Fire Capt. Josh Uecker. Others were rescued as firefighters went inside and combed through the building, crawling on their hands and knees in complete darkness. In total, 11 people who were trapped were rescued, and 39 more were safely evacuated. No serious injuries were reported, but two people were treated for smoke inhalation.

Janesville Battalion Chief Ron Bomkamp said the fire department recently updated its training so that all battalions receive the same training, ensuring consistency and cohesion when multiple crews are working a major fire. Bomkamp added that firefighters are trained to be familiar with different structures in the city to understand how building construction will affect firefighting and rescue operations.