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NEWS | April 13, 2022

Michigan ANG firefighters aid county departments with live-fire training resources

By Capt. Andrew Layton Michigan National Guard

ALPENA, Michigan – Firefighters from Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center have spent dozens of off-duty hours this winter building live-fire training props to aid 12 county fire departments. A demonstration April 7th showcased how these small-scale buildings help ensure first responders are prepared to employ many important fire protection strategies.

The props, known as “Palmer’s Dollhouses,” are utilized by fire departments nationwide to train critical skills including communication, smoke reading (color, velocity, density and volume), ventilation tactics, and thermal imaging camera operations. The props are named after their designer, Matt Palmer, a fire captain in Stamford, Connecticut.

Builders FirstSource of Alpena donated enough plywood and materials for 12 Palmer’s Dollhouses. Firefighters from Alpena CRTC volunteered approximately 48 off-duty hours to construct them, one for each volunteer fire department in Alpena County.

“These firefighters have full-time jobs and they did this as a volunteer project to help the community,” said Mark Thompson, sales representative for Builder’s FirstSource. “This was an easy ‘yes’ for us to provide the plywood and materials to make it possible.”

Alpena CRTC will distribute the Palmer’s Dollhouses to local fire departments throughout the month.

“A lot of our full-time firefighters here at Alpena CRTC are also volunteers on local country departments,” said Col. Jim Rossi, Alpena CRTC commander. “This is another example of why our people in the Michigan Air National Guard are the best in the business when it comes to dedication, continuous improvement and solving future challenges. They’re a cornerstone of our communities.”

According to CRTC firefighter Nate Seelye, smoke patterns and characteristics are the same, regardless of scale, which is what makes the Palmer’s Dollhouses an important tool.

“These houses provide really effective, valuable training for our county fire departments,” said Seelye. “They’re going to learn about risk management, command and control, and other concepts so all of our first responders will be better prepared to protect lives and property across the community.”