Before a former strip mall in Greenwood is demolished, firefighters will use it to train on how to rescue people from collapsed structures.

The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission approved giving the Indianapolis Fire Department permission to use the facility for training prior to the building being torn down next spring. The city board which purchased the former strip mall at the southeast corner of the Madison Avenue and County Line Road earlier this year for $1.1 million.

The vacant, 50,000- square-foot Greenwood Crossing strip mall, set on an 8-acre property with a pothole-riddled parking lot, has long been an eyesore. The redevelopment commission purchased the property with the intent of tearing it down and possibly converting it into a park.

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But before the strip mall is demolished, the Indianapolis Fire Department plans to conduct training on how to rescue people from collapsed structures.

Further details about the training, such as when it will take place, who will be involved and what specific scenarios they will be practicing, are still being determined, Indianapolis Fire Department spokesperson Rita Reith said.

Greenwood Fire Department officials are glad to have the Indianapolis department in for this training, since that is who Greenwood would rely on to help in a building collapse situation, Greenwood Fire Chief Darin Hoggatt said.

Demolition of the strip mall is estimated to cost about $250,000. The redevelopment commission has requested bids for the work, which is expected to be complete by March, capital projects manager Kevin Steinmetz said.

Fire departments in the region specialize in different tasks and assist each other when those situations come up. For example, Greenwood has the hazardous materials team for the region, and the Bargersville Fire Department focuses on search and rescue.

If people needed to be rescued from a collapsed building in Greenwood, the Indianapolis Fire Department would be called in to help, Hoggatt said.

Situations where firefighters get to train on a commercial site is rare. Most of the live training opportunities come when a home is donated to a fire department to be used for a practice fire prior to being torn down, he said.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.