ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Pedestrians walking along South University Avenue shouldn’t be concerned if they see a bit of smoke and firefighters moving in-and-out of buildings over the next few weeks.
Starting Tuesday, and continuing through October, Ann Arbor Fire Department will turn the unused buildings between East University Avenue and Church Street into training grounds to practice different exercises.
No actual fires will be lit but passersby who stop to watch might see some theatrical smoke come out of windows and doors as AAFD members train.
The buildings on that block of South University Avenue will be demolished soon, so they provide a unique opportunity for the fire department to practice, according to Fire Chief Mike Kennedy of the Ann Arbor Fire Department.
“People are more than welcome to be on the north side of the road and to watch what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for the public to see where some of their tax dollars are going.”
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Kennedy said the current plan is to train during weekdays on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The training is weather dependent so some training days may be rescheduled.
Traffic won’t be interrupted but some sidewalks near the buildings will be closed due to hoselines.
The AAFD training will evolve from working with a hoseline or search and rescue, to more intense and destructive practices like survival training or cutting into walls.
Kennedy added that the department is appreciative of Hughes Properties, the owners of the buildings, as it is rare for the department to have access to so many different types of structures. The block is the former location of a PNC Bank, South U Pizza, several eateries, apartments and other shops.
Once the buildings are demolished, Hughs Properties will build Vic Village South, a mixed-use building, on the block.