In the wake of a concerted effort and weeks of planning between Merrill Housing Authority director Paul Russell and Merrill Fire Department Captain Mike Drury, Jenny Towers residents embarked on their second fire drill in 30 years on Tuesday morning.
As Russell explains, aside from the importance of drills in terms of training and practice for fire department personnel, the drill and related knowledge was equally important for residents.
“Like any other housing facility, we do have turnover with our residents,” he said. “From what I understand, our last drill was three years ago and we obviously have had quite a few new residents since then. The drill today is important for them especially, so they are aware in the case of a live event, what to do and where to go. Having a high-rise building like this means a very specific procedure in terms of evacuation and so on. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page.”
The exercise kicked off with an initial fire alarm being sounded inside the building, followed by an escorted evacuation of residents across the east parking lot, to stage near the former MFD Station No.1 building.
As residents were in the process of evacuating, MFD staff made their way up to the sixth floor to the location of the reported “fire,” meanwhile checking rooms for those who may not have made it out.
Simultaneously, MFD ladder truck 63 was quickly set up and the ladder deployed to the exterior window of the fire’s location.
From the time of the first page at 9 a.m., crews had arrived and reached the fire location in 13 minutes.
“I was very pleased with what I saw today,” Drury adds. “We had great cooperation from residents and we had an effective response time. We are very appreciative for the cooperation of Paul Russell in organizing this exercise. This is just the second exercise we have done here in 30 years, with the first being in 2013. We have another drill planned for Thursday at Park Place and we look forward to working with Paul to perform additional drills in the future. These are great for everyone involved. They are vital in terms of training and preparedness for our department and the knowledge and experience is great for our residents.”
Rick Blake is one of many new residents at Jenny Towers since the last drill, and he was seemingly in agreement with Drury and Russell.
“I thought it was great for everyone,” he adds. “We knew since last week about this so when the drill sounded around nine, we all filed out in a pretty orderly fashion. I think quite a few of us were excited and curious at the same time. It was exciting and interesting to watch the ladder and the crews work, many of us including myself had never seen that before. It was really something!
“It was also good for us to go through this so we know what to do if it’s ever the real-thing you know. So we know where to go and what to do. The boys really did a great job today! I think we all feel safe living here,” he adds with a bit of a smile as he watches Ladder 63 retract. “But maybe just a little safer now after our drill today.”