If you drive by 627-629 Howard St. in Evanston this week and see a bunch of fire engines outside, there’s no fire. It’s a search and rescue training exercise.

Top: The ghostly image captured on a thermal imaging device of a firefighter ‘trapped’ in the building. Above: A lineup of fire vehicles in the alley behind the building. (Photos by Mike Perlman.)

The building, recently acquired by the city, is scheduled to be remodeled for new uses soon,

But in the meantime the firefighters are using it from today through Thursday to practice search and rescue techniques — including using thermal imaging devices to spot a colleague who might be trapped and in need of help.

Firefighters prepare to enter the building where they’ll be confronted with theatrical smoke, making visibility difficult.

Fire Division chief Geoff Block says that during the course of the week almost all Evanston firefighters will go through the training exercise, along with some from neighboring Skokie.

The training includes practice working as Rapid Intervention Teams to locate a downed firefighter and get him out of the burning building.

A debriefing session to analyze how a team did in the training exercise.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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