Ruston Fire Chief Don Torbet says he has long joked that if he could build a fire training tower, it would look like the six-story Commencement Condominiums, with its exterior elevators, open-air staircases and walkways that act as fire breaks between the towers.
The Commencement became that training facility for Torbet and his crew briefly Thursday night as the volunteer department had its first group high-rise exercise. The goal: Practicing how to fight a sixth-floor fire using pumped water rather than the standpipe installed to supply water for firefighting. It’s rare, but standpipes can fail, Torbet said.
Commencement owners offered the use of the building to Torbet after their February visit to his soda fountain and store, Don’s Ruston Market.
The fire department that serves the city of 749 residents didn’t have much need to practice battling blazes and rescuing people in elevated spaces before the Commencement opened in 2012. Torbet said he expects the training his crews received Thursday to help prepare them for responding to calls at the Commencement and the new buildings rising at the Point Ruston project on the waterfront.