Lincoln Fire & Rescue has been training lately on techniques for fighting fires in high-rise buildings. The mothballing of two 1960s-era University of Nebraska residence halls (the Cather/Pound complex) have presented a great opportunity for this training, coordinated by Capt. Jamie Pospisil in the department's training division.
Capt. Pospisil put it well, when she characterized high rise fires as "high risk, low frequency." You could say that about significant fires generally: in the past 90 days, we have responded to 31 fires with any property loss at all, no matter how small. During that same time period, we have responded to 4,894 medical emergencies. It is clear that our primary business is emergency medical services, and that is where the greatest risk to public safety exists--by a huge margin.
Nonetheless, fires happen. High-rise fires, although very rare, also happen--and in a city approaching 275,000 like Lincoln, you better be ready when they do. The potential consequences of failure to train and failure to prepare are huge.
I spent a lot of hours during my career on the firing range. I never needed to discharge my sidearm in combat, and rarely needed to deploy it at all. I can count the number of police officers who have actually used their firearms against a threat during my years on one hand. It's pretty much the same concept with high-rise fire training: prepare for a bad day, and hope that it never happens.