If you see smoke coming out of the abandoned Kim's Restaurant building today or Thursday, don't fret.
Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District No. 3 will be training new firefighters at the building. Crews will practice rescuing firefighters trapped inside a structure during a blaze. It's called rapid intervention team — RIT — deployment, and involves components like breaking through walls and pulling out a downed firefighter.
"In the event of a downed firefighter (who) has some kind of problem, our guys on the outside are ready to be deployed inside," said Jackson County Fire District No. 3 firefighter Mark Tomasello, who's been with the department one month.
New recruits also will get some ladder and hose training. Trainers plan to use fake theatrical smoke to disorient firefighters during drills.
Medford Fire-Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Justin Bates said the Coquille Indian Tribe, which owns the property, offered to let the fire crews use it at no charge.
"We don't get this opportunity very often, so we like to take advantage of this," Bates said.
Fire officials said they have several different training facilities, including Fire District No. 3's in White City and a fire station by Railroad Park off Table Rock Road. While the facilities are useful, they said new, unfamiliar environments better prepare firefighters for real emergency calls.
"Those guys kind of get to know the building, and it's familiar to them," Bates said. "Whenever we put them in a different building that they're not familiar with, it's really eye-opening because there are different challenges and different configurations of rooms."
Trainees agreed on the effectiveness of breaking from the usual training environment.
"It's night and day the difference between training on a little prop and actually getting to break through a normal wall that we're going to come in contact with on a daily basis," said Jeff Benyo, a Medford Fire-Rescue firefighter. He's been with the department a month, too. "We get to go in and you get to expect the unexpected, which is what we prepare for."
— Ryan Pfeil