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Williamson FD, Rochester Regional Health partner for training effort

When COVID-19 limited their options for a safe training facility, the Williamson Fire Company needed a way to continue honing the skills and techniques that help them save lives. They found a natural partner in Rochester Regional Health’s Newark-Wayne Community Hospital.

Maura Snyder, vice president of operations for Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, learned of the fire company’s need for a large-building training site from Fred Blauvelt, vice president of Williamson Fire Company #1. Blauvelt also works for Newark-Wayne as the hospital’s safety technician.

“Rochester Regional Health owns the campus of the former Myers Community Hospital in Sodus,” explained Snyder. “Some of the buildings are still empty. They’re large with long hallways and a perfect fit to help the fire company train in a safe, controlled setting.”

On Monday evening, the hospital opened an empty building of the former Myers Hospital to the fire company. They drilled techniques and procedures used to fight fires in larger buildings like schools, apartment buildings, factories and hospitals.

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“We get called to fight fires in buildings of all sizes,” said Blauvelt. “Pandemic or not, we need to find a way to safely keep our team prepared for the life-or-death moments when our community needs us most.”

In past years, the fire company would practice these drills in schools or other large buildings after they closed for the day. Current COVID-19 safety precautions make it more challenging for many local buildings to accommodate. These particular drills do not involve fire or water but do require the elaborate setup of hoses and other heavy equipment by more than a dozen volunteer firefighters.

“This community takes care of each other,” Snyder proclaimed. “If our hospital is in a position to help a great organization like the Williamson Fire Company, we’re going to do it.”

When telling Snyder about the successful training exercise, Blauvelt had one critical item to address with the vice president he reports to for his day job: “the team wants to know when we can train there again.”