Area fire departments working together with new strategy

By Anthony Antoine |

Published 04/03 2014 10:57AM

Updated 04/04 2014 01:26PM

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- A new strategy to fight fires is starting to pay off for Champaign and Urbana firefighters. Crews say a major part of putting out a fire comes down to planning and having the manpower to do it. Some new training is putting both departments in the position to be successful.

Firefighters say it's controlled chaos at the scene of a working fire. A new program is now allowing Urbana and Champaign firefighters to work together called Level Two Staging.

"Level two staging just means that other units that are coming in, go to an area that is about two blocks away, remote from the fire, they're still engaged and we bring them in, in a controlled fashion," said Chad Hensch, an Urbana firefighter.

If the fire is in Urbana, Champaign firefighters will be two blocks away and vice-versa. Having backup that close is a game changer.

"One of the advantages it has, is the incident commander has a chance of looking over the scene and be able to determine where they want that apparatus placed."

That proved to be beneficial at this fire on Busey Street, in Urbana.

"It's a very tight, congested street on Busey. We had multiple reports of victims trapped on balconies. We had to have a large amount of people there really quick to handle those civilians."

Cutting response time allowed them to get everyone out safely and in a timely fashion.

"If we did the old-fashioned way and piece mealed them in, we'd have to wait for them to come across town or if we got on scene and the incident grew in complexity we may be behind time wise getting those units to the scene in a rapid fashion."

This won't happen on every call. It's only for working fires that are harder to control. The training is paid for through a grant. Since January, Urbana only used this strategy at the Busey Street Fire and Champaign hasn't so far.

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