How Rockford Fire Department responds to high-rise building fires
ROCKFORD (WREX) -
The number of highrise fires in Rockford have nearly doubled over the past five years.
Rockford has more than a dozen buildings more than nine stories tall.
Nine stories is as high as firefighters ladders will reach. That's why they have other ways of getting the job done.
"We use the stairs as much as we can, as well as the elevator," said Rockford Fire District Chief Benny Ognibene. "If it's on the 10th floor will go the 8th floor, and we will walk up because of that fact that if were using that elevator and that 10th floor is just totally involved in fire, that doors going to open, and were going to get people hurt."
But if the stairwell is already on fire ...
"We can literally hook a hose to that ladder and we can also hook our hoses to that aerial tip and use that as a makeshift standpipe so instead of connecting in the hallway will connect it at the aerial through that window," Ognibene said.
Rockford fire has four of those tower trucks.
When a high-rise building goes up in flames they will send about 24 people which is about half of the staff on duty at the time.
Firefighters say the good news for people who live above the ninth floor is that those buildings have sprinkler systems.
As for what you can personally do to survive...
"The fire department will give you direction. We will either relocate you or basically keep you right in your room. Now if you are really concerned, get to a window, wave a white flag or something that we can see. We can see that your there and we will instruct you," Ognibene said.
Firefighters also say to stop smoke from seeping into your room while you wait for help: soak a wet cloth and put it at the base of your door.