YOUNGSTOWN - Fire Chief John O'Neill said regular training for high-rise fires paid off Wednesday after crews had to battle a blaze and rescue a woman from a downtown office building that caught fire.
Just after 8 p.m. crews were called to a fire at 23 W. Federal St., which houses Huntington Bank. A cleaning woman was on the 11th floor and could not be reached by any of the department's ladder trucks, so a crew raced up the steps and got her out of the building, reports state.
The blaze broke out in the lobby of the bank and snaked up a large wooden column to the second floor. Reports noted a electric breaker near the source of the fire was tripped. Damage is listed at more than $150,000, and a cause is under investigation.
A spokesman for Huntington said they will try and get the downtown branch reopened for business today or Monday. It appeared that other offices in the building were operating Thursday, though there were a large number of workers for a fire repair company cleaning up on the first and second floors.
Responding crews called for assistance when they arrived. O'Neill said one crew fought the fire, another checked the third floor to make sure it did not spread, and others checked every floor and door to make sure there was no one else in the building.
O'Neill said fighting a blaze in a high rise is a challenge because crews have to be used in different ways than in an ordinary fire. He said that at least once a year the department hauls its trucks and personnel downtown to train on high rise fires. They also use tabletop models quarterly to hone their techniques.
''It's manpower. It's using your people the best you can,'' O'Neill said. ''It goes back to the training we do on the high rises. It's why we do it.''
Also, special hoses are used for high rise fires, and they are packed in special ways so they are easier to carry.
O'Neill said smoke was thick throughout the building, and firefighters who rescued the woman had airpacks on as they climbed the stairs. She and another person inside were treated for smoke inhalation.
Overall, O'Neill said he was pleased with how the department did its job.
''I thought it ran almost textbook,'' O'Neill said. ''The crews knew exactly what to do, and the chiefs knew exactly what to do.''