Vacant Carmel neighborhood turns public safety training ground

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The homes in Carmel’s Meridian Suburban neighborhood will soon be demolished to make way for new development, but not before they provide a valuable service to the community.

In recent weeks, 31 vacant homes have served as a real-world public safety training ground, first for the Carmel Police Dept., then the FBI and, finally, the Carmel Fire Dept.

Several Carmel firefighters gathered at a two-story home on Tottenham Drive on Jan. 27 to practice rescuing a victim — represented by a 140-pound dummy — from the first and second floors through busted-out windows.

The firefighters practice regularly at their training center, but CFD spokesman Tim Griffin said “nothing can compare to the real thing.”

“Each home is unique, so we’re getting many different looks at many different opportunities that could present themselves out in the real world,” Griffin said.

Firefighters have been able to practice a variety of exercises in the neighborhood, including using smoke to simulate certain conditions during a fire, ventilating roofs and forcing doors open, Griffin said.

“It’s vital training that is going to help us someday help the citizens of Carmel,” Griffin said.

Meridian Development, a sister company of Methodist Sports Medicine, purchased the Meridian Suburban homes, which are just north of the Franciscan Health Orthopedic Center of Excellence, in 2019 and early 2020 and allowed residents to live in them rent-free for up to a year as they searched for a new place to live. The orthopedic center is under construction and expected to open later this year or early 2022.

Rob Craig, director of business development for Methodist Sports Medicine, said the homes will be demolished after CFD is done training in them.

“We wanted to do what we can to be a good partner to the City of Carmel,” he said. “By doing this, it helps with safety and allows the firefighters and paramedics to train in real situations.”

Craig said the site of the neighborhood will eventually be used for “future business development” but that plans have not yet been confirmed.


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