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Structures in future path of South Mountain Freeway provide training to first responders


Buildings in the way of a major highway project have been some great teaching tools for first responders.

Structures the Arizona Department of Transportation owns because they are in the future path of South Mountain Freeway have been providing real-world training opportunities for first responders.

A former hotel has hosted mock hostage situations for SWAT teams from various law enforcement agencies. There were also homes in the way that allowed firefighters to practice cutting through roofs to provide ventilation during fires.

The Phoenix Fire Department sent 48 ladder companies and every recruit for rooftop-ventilation exercises.

“For the recruits, it is the opportunity to practice this critical skill prior to an actual event at 3 a.m., in the dark, or whenever the call may originate,” Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Riley said in a press release. “The amount of training we were able to do was invaluable to our department.”

Since the plan for the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, ADOT has taken over nearly 200 properties.

“There is no question that the job these firefighters do is dangerous,” said Shawn Gilleland, a Rural/Metro Fire Department public information officer. “Partnering with ADOT, we are able to provide real world training in a very controlled environment.”

This isn’t the first time the two have collaborated. Their relationship dates back to the 1990’s, with previous paths of the State Route 51 and Loop 202 being used as well.

South Mountain Freeway, to be opened by late 2019, will connect with Interstate 10 on each end, and by completing the Loop 101 and Loop 202 systems, gives drivers a link between the east and west Valley. It also brings an alternative to the I-10 through downtown Phoenix.

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