Firefighters in Lincoln, Maine, locate building for training exercise

By Nick Sambides Jr.
Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Copyright 2006 Bangor Daily News

LINCOLN, Maine — When Freda Nadeau of West Enfield opened Golden Girls restaurant last year, she had hopes of turning the long, boxlike building at the corner of West Broadway and River Road into a success.

It didn't happen.

So Nadeau sold the building to Homer Clough on Monday, and Clough is going to do what a lot of business owners do with unsuccessful buildings: He is going to burn it down.

But legally.

Clough or the building's other owners have offered the structure to the Lincoln Fire Department as a place to hold a live-fire training exercise, Town Manager Glenn Aho said Monday.

If the building passes a firefighter inspection and the Town Council approves, firefighters will torch the place.

"This is a great opportunity for people to hone their interior firefighting skills and even better opportunity for our new call company members who might not yet have interior firefighting skills to practice them," Aho said. "A whole training schedule will be devised around the use of this building."

The best way for firefighters to learn to save a building, Lincoln firefighter Rick Smart said, is to burn one down.

"It's the only way to see what new firefighters can do," Smart said Monday. "You can put them through their classes, but it gives us a way to see what they can do under live-fire conditions with a safety factor thrown in.

"We can't guarantee 100 percent safety; there is a risk factor," he added, "but it will be pretty safe."

Firefighters were awaiting the signing of the sale papers Monday for permission to inspect the building, Smart said. If all goes well, the live burn should occur within a month.

Area firefighters regularly train in old structures, Smart said. East Millinocket's firefighters usually haul in an old mobile home. Kingman's firefighters used a house last year. Howland's used one in the spring.

"We try to get a building that's structurally sound. We can't just burn any building," Smart said.

Lincoln's firefighters probably will have several teams work on the building simultaneously, possibly burning the building in sections.

As engineers work the truck pumps, an interior attack team or search and rescue squad will search the building or try to contain the blaze. Ladder-truck teams will attack the fire from ladders.

When the building is almost razed, firefighters will practice "surround and drown" or exposure protection tactics, Smart said.

Firefighters also will study how the building burns, Smart said.

Once a building is totally gone, its owners are responsible for cleaning up what remains, Smart said. Such burns help save building owners demolition costs.

Several restaurants have tried to make it at 13 River Road, but whether the business was called Dube's Lounge, the Chalet, the Golden Girls or Broadway Diner, none seemed to be very successful, at least not for long, Aho said.

Aho hoped the corner's next occupant would have better luck. The building is a few miles from the Interstate 95 exit to Chester and Lincoln

"It's a great location because of the traffic," Aho said. "There is a lot of traffic at that intersection and obviously with Broadway Auto locating there, and having that building gone, will open up that corner considerably for a host of opportunities." 

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