BATH - Members of the Bath Volunteer Fire Department had an opportunity to diversify their training over the past several weeks.

Instead of their usual training grounds, firefighters utilized several vacant properties located near Exit 38 in Bath on and off the past six weeks. Property owner Brian Polmanteer, owner of T&R Towing, allowed the fire department to use the buildings.

“They wanted some buildings that where commercial based that they could do some extensive training on,” said Polmanteer. “It’s tough to find them.”

The four acre property features an old garage that used to be a car dealership, a former veterinarian clinic, and a building that was once utilized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The property is located between the Tops Market and Super 8 Motel on W. Morris Street in Bath near Exit 38.

The fire department normally trains at a variety of different locations, including the fire station, the Steuben County Civil Defense Building, and other offsite locations. But training on Polmanteer’s property allowed the department to mix things up a bit and train in unfamiliar environments under different scenarios. 

“We can go to the training center and run hose lines, but after awhile it’s kind of the same routine,” said John Conrad Sr., Bath Volunteer Fire Department Public Information Officer. “When you can go into a strange building that you really don’t know the layout of, it makes it a lot more realistic.”

As part of their training exercises, firefighters used aerial ladders to access the roof, utilized saws and axes for roof ventilation, pulled hose lines throughout the buildings, and deployed search and rescue teams to look for “victims.”

There were also many doors throughout the several buildings, offering firefighters a chance to utilize different methods of door breaching.

Each week, the department practiced something different. Conrad Sr. said unlike the department's normal training facilities, the buildings offered firefighters the rare opportunity to manipulate their training enviroment, such as when they were able to drill holes in the roof for ventilation.

The buildings themselves are currently scheduled to be torn down.

Polmanteer said preliminary work is underway, with crews scheduled to begin major demolition proceedings later in the week and into next week.

Polmanteer says he buys properties such as the four-acre lot in question that have fallen into disrepair. He then cleans them up environmentally and puts them back on the tax roll for future redevelopment.