Carthage Firefighters were seen at the Underground last week. But don't worry – the fire was set on purpose.

Carthage Firefighters were seen at the Underground last week. But don't worry – the fire was set on purpose.

Every year, AmeriCold Logistics gives a tour to the Carthage firefighters in order for them to stay familiar with the underground facility in case of an emergency. This year, Gary Pieschel, facility service manager for AmeriCold, was delightfully surprised when David Myers, training officer, asked for a training exercise instead. A simulated fire was set at an unoccupied site in the Underground, and firefighters responded just as they would as if it was the real thing.

“They'll make the 9-1-1 call, and over the radios they'll say 'for the drill,' after everything, our guys will meet AmeriCold officials at the entrance and get suited up,” Myers explained before exercise on Thursday. “It's not normal to drive with an air tank on, but we're going above what could happen. We try to train so they'll be accustomed to a lot of things that could happen.”

If a real fire were to occur at the Underground, AmeriCold officials would lead the firefighters as far to the fire as possible, but for training, officials gave directions to the fire at the front entrance.

“It's like a maze down there, it's easy to get lost,” Myers said, “and for training we want our guys to work on communication.”

The Underground is ventilated, and has fire hydrants implemented throughout the facility, but different types of smoke behavior is hard to predict – especially underground.

“You're fighting the unknown down here,” said CFD's Capt. Scott Kendall. “I think the training went pretty good. We learned a lot – learned what not to do, and things we can do better. I think the main thing we'll work on is establishing better communication to the outside.”

Since radio signals are lost in the Underground, Myers said the next step in being prepared is to coordinate with AmeriCold's radio access. Overall, CFD Chief Chris Thompson and Pieschel expressed satisfaction in the first training exercise between the department and industry.

“The citizens of Carthage need to know they should be proud of our fire department,” Pieschel said. “They do a hell of a job.”