Center building used for firefighter training

An empty building in central Norfolk served as the optimal site for training exercises.

The Kensington on Norfolk Avenue has been vacant since December pending its sale to Ho-Chunk Capital, which plans to convert the historic building into a boutique hotel to serve as a tourist hub in central Norfolk.

With the historic building now empty, Norfolk Fire Division personnel recently took the opportunity to conduct training exercises. With fire trucks and ambulances parked on the lot adjacent to the building, firefighters performed tasks in a high-rise building, including hooking up a hose to the outside of the building and climbing to a designated floor and hooking hoses inside to help put out fires on upper floors.

Firefighter personnel also incorporated multi-room search and rescue techniques throughout the apartments along with firefighter rescue training during drills.

Assistant Fire Chief Trever O’Brien said the Fire Division was grateful to the Norfolk Housing Agency for allowing the department to conduct training at the Kensington.

“With multi-story buildings under construction and being refurbished here in Norfolk, this offers training opportunities that test the skills of our firefighters when working in mid-rise buildings,” O’Brien said, referring to tall buildings between the five and the 12 floors.

O’Brien said fire division officers and firefighters use their critical thinking and firefighting skills in buildings of this size differently to help mitigate a problem and keep people safe.

“Being able to conduct training in buildings like this simply can’t be duplicated in a busy space without disturbing the residents, so the timing is right,” he said.

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