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Lockport seeks to install fire training center

LOCKPORT – The City of Lockport Fire Board has given the Fire Department the go-ahead to work on installing a new fire training center in a former restaurant.

The department has its eye on a former Jamaican restaurant at 135 Charlotte St., at the eastern edge of Outwater Park.

The city foreclosed on the building in June 2008 because of unpaid property taxes, according to the City Assessor’s Office.

The city has held onto the building rather than trying to auction it off. The assessment records list the size of the building at 745 square feet, on a lot that covers 4,840 square feet. The building is assessed at $10,000.

“It really just needs a good clean-out,” said Luca C.P. Quagliano, the Fire Department’s municipal training officer. “If it’s going to sit empty, we could do something with it.”

“It could work better than what we have now, which is nothing,” Fire Chief Patrick K. Brady said.

One thing the department needs is a place to erect “props” to practice a variety of fire response techniques. Brady said when such training is necessary, the firefighters pull the fire trucks out of the firehouse and set up the “props” on the garage floor.

There is no place to store them properly, the chief told the board.

Quagliano said if given the option in the old restaurant, “I’d permanently install a combined space maze.”

He added, “That would give us the second-floor height we need to test our bailout systems.”

The State Labor Department’s Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau issued a report last month that said the Fire Department had committed three safety violations pertaining to the lack of “bailout kits” for firefighters to use if they need to jump out a window during a fire.

The kits would allow for a rope or webbing to be tied to a window sill or some other solid object inside a building to enable a firefighter facing oncoming flames to escape safely, either reaching the ground or a height where he can be rescued.

The city happens to be ordering new air packs that include such a system, a purchase the Common Council had authorized before the state safety report came in.

The city received a $128,000 federal grant to pay for 40 new breathing cylinders and 20 new air packs, replacing equipment that is 15 years old.

Deputy Corporation Counsel David E. Blackley suggested that the Fire Department take up the matter of gaining control of the restaurant with the city’s Property Management Committee, which was set up to consider proposals suggesting other means of using foreclosed properties rather than auctioning them.