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As businesses pop-up, firefighters update pre-fire plans

ALPENA, Mich. — Businesses will catch firefighters walking the streets of downtown checking out their windows, doors and nearby hydrants.

Firefighters need blueprints of every downtown business to help them navigate buildings during a fire and save local shops.

“So Griffin [James] this is something we like to update every few years,” said firefighter paramedic Andy Williams. “We’ve been in these buildings before.” Williams will identify exit points, staircases, backrooms and electrical boxes. What he documents is part of a pre-fire plan–not a building inspection.

Risk reduction officer Andy Marceau said, “what’s happening, especially downtown, is mixed occupancy.” Downtown used to shutdown after 5 or 6 in the evening. “And then, boom, downtown would be empty.” Those days are over. Apartments, restaurants and yoga studios occupy the same building and may open or close any hour of the day.

“If there ever is a problem,” said The Local Basket Case co-owner Griffin James, “knock on wood, they’re able to get in.” Firefighters will know what to do if they know what’s inside.