Evanston Fire Department crews were training today — cutting holes in the roof of the shuttered Tommy Nevin’s pub downtown to practice how to ventilate a building during a fire.

Firefighters from Batallion 21, Engines 22 and 24 and Truck 22 up on the Nevin’s roof.

Fire Division Chief Paul Polep says the exercise at 1454 Sherman Ave., gave firefighters a chance to test different saws and blades for use in cutting open the flat roof of a commercial structure.

“To have structures donated to us to train on is very beneficial,” Polep says. He says formal training facilities don’t provide a full test of the varying conditions that firefighters are likely to find in the real world.

With the metal sheeting and built-up rubber roof, a commercial structure like the Nevin’s building, he said, presents different challenges than the pitched roof with wooden framing of a typical home.

Polep says all three shifts of firefighters have been able to train at the Nevin’s site this week.

Fire Apparatus Operator Tim Gobat of Truck 22 saws through the metal roofing material.

Andrew Yule of Albion Residential, which will be putting up a 15-story mixed-use building on the site, says Albion reached out to the fire department thinking the buildings would be a good opportunity for training exercises.

“We want to be part of the community and contribute to it in tangible as well as less visible ways,” Yule added.

Demolition for the Albion project is scheduled to start in mid-July.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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