Spokane Firefighters finding easier ways to get those in danger - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane Firefighters finding easier ways to get those in danger to safety

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Residents in north Spokane had to be evacuated from the top floors of a high-rise retirement home after reporting smoke Monday morning.

The incident happened at the Lilac Plaza Retirement Community on the 7000 block of Wiscomb Street.

Firefighters say tenants on the 12th, 13th, and 14th floors had to be evacuated.

“With the retirement community you do have some people with limited mobility issues,” said Spokane Fire Battalion Chief, David Heizer. “So we would have an assigned crew to the task of assisting the occupants off of the 14th floor or whichever area the danger is in.”

Chief Heizer says one of the ways firefighters do that is by using a stair chair. The device was originally intended for medical personnel to use for patients, but fire departments have learned to appreciate them as well.

“They're sitting in a chair versus someone trying to pick them up under their arms,” said Heizer. “It’s safer and a lot easier for people carrying them.”

Heizer says the chairs have evolved over time. They used to be equivalent to picking up a wheelchair, but now make it easy for firefighters to guide people down a staircase using a track.

“It has a track which actually controls the rate of descent,” said Heizer. “The patient doesn't feel the jerking, it doesn't require a lot of strength of the individuals on the head or foot to move them down the stairs.”

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