Pretty soon you'll start seeing Westfield firefighters swarming all over certain buildings along U.S. 31. Well, maybe not swarming. How about crawling, or traversing, or gingerly making their way. So, before you see this and ask, "What gives?", I'll tell you . . . .
With the imminent transformation of U.S. 31 into a limited access highway (think freeway), there are a number of properties that first had to be purchased by the state. You may have already seen some empty buildings, particularly on Greyhound Court south of Wendy's. Well, rather than simply bulldozing paradise and putting up a parking lot (OK, freeway), the state (INDOT) has agreed to allow the Westfield Fire and Police Departments to conduct traning exercises on, in, and around the condemned buildings.
This partnership between the City and INDOT is a great idea because it allows our public safety personnel to engage in some training that's pretty close to the real thing. It's one thing to train on a mocked up structure or in a big tin can, but it's something entirely different when you're chopping a hole in the roof of a commercial building (or so I'm told).
According to a city press release, more than a dozen structures on the West side of 31 between Greyhound Pass and 161st street are part of this agreement--with potentially more to come as the highway consruction proceeds.
So, as you're driving on 31, don't be too concerned when you see a flurry of public safety activity in the next couple of weeks. But please, heed the sirens and pull over as the emergency vehicles pass. Who knows, they might be responding to the real thing.