Training exercises are routine business for most fire departments.

But the opportunity to perform drills in a high-rise provides a unique and important practice experience for fire crews.

Monday through Thursday throughout the month of April, fire crews from a mix of departments across the county will come to Wauwatosa to participate in a three-hour training at an 11-story structure near Mayfair Mall.

"Fire department personnel from all Milwaukee County fire departments, as well as the 128th Air National Guard fire department (have begun) to participate in daily training sessions aimed at standardizing responses to fires in high-rise buildings across the area," a release from the Wauwatosa Fire Department said. "This training is a culmination of nearly two years of policy development, equipment standardization and planning meetings."

The release said firefighters responding to a reported fire in a high-rise structure face unique challenges, including getting the necessary equipment up to the floor where the fire is occurring which requires significant coordination.

"Given the resources needed to address the many facets of the response, a working fire in a high-rise structure anywhere in Milwaukee County is likely to draw on resources from several neighboring fire departments," the release said. "For this reason, it is imperative that crews from departments across the area be trained to implement tactics in a consistent manner."

Fire departments participating in the training include the 128th Air National Guard, Cudahy, City of Milwaukee, Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Milwaukee County Airport, North Shore, Oak Creek, St. Francis, South Milwaukee, West Allis and Wauwatosa.

“It is really important that the entire response be as coordinated as possible, and we are excited to have this opportunity to continue to work together with our neighbors in such a large and realistic training setting,” North Shore Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Andrew Harris said.

The training drills will include setting up the initial command structure, deploying crews for reconnaissance, search and rescue, coordinating equipment movement, and initiating the fire attack.

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