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Through the years, Madison County's fire departments have worked together on emergency and fire scenes and are always on call to help bring mutual aid to whomever needs it.

As a way to ensure the crews work well together, the local departments also make it a point to train together. The Fredericktown Fire Department, Cherokee Pass Volunteer Fire Department and the Marquand Volunteer Fire Department came together a few weeks ago to do just that.

Thanks to the generosity of the First Baptist Church, the departments were allowed to train inside and around a building located adjacent to the church on S. Mine La Motte before its scheduled demolition day.

Crews took to the roof with chainsaws and worked on techniques inside with axes. The Fredericktown firefighters were seen inside the building attempting to bust through walls, while the other crews were outside cutting ventilation holes in the roof. 

Fredericktown Fire Chief John Clark said his crew was preparing for a scenario where they may be trapped in a smoke filled room and have to make a new exit by breaking through a wall. 

“It is important for our firefighters, especially our new recruits, to have hands-on experiences,” Clark said. “The walls in this particular house are solid wood making it difficult to break through. This is a situation we could very well come across on one of our fire calls.”

Clark said it is better to have the experiences in a controlled environment and learn from any errors made then to come across these problems for the first time during a fire.

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“We are thankful to the First Baptist Church for allowing us, as well as the other two departments, the opportunity to use this building to train,” Clark said.

Cherokee Pass Fire Chief Bill Starkey said the vacant building gave his department a chance to try out and train with its new bucket truck.

The truck, which the department acquired in April, has a 100-foot ladder and will help with fires up to six stories high.

“We weren’t looking for a bucket truck but it was such a great deal we could not pass it up,” Starkey said. “It may be older, but it spent its whole life with one department and was very well taken care of.”

Starkey said the new truck will be an asset to the entire county. He said training at the vacant house gave the departments a chance to learn from one another as well as see how each department runs.

“Having the ability to create an emergency scenario inside a vacant home is an amazing gift to our firefighters,” Starkey said. “The opportunity to work together and improve our skills during a realistic experience will enhance the services we can provide to the community.”

All three departments are always looking for new volunteers. Clark and Starkey said their departments provide hands-on training for all recruits and ensure their firefighters are prepared and safe when they get the call.  

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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