In its final days, the clubhouse at Quail Ridge Country Club was used by first-responder units for search-and-rescue training exercises.
To make way for a new $22.75 million clubhouse at Quail Ridge Country Club, the Boynton Beach, Fla., club had to demolish its existing 40,000-sq. ft. facility, which had stood for 40 years.
In its final days, the building served the community one last time, when it was used from June 15-July 6 by the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Department and other first-responder units from throughout the county for search-and-rescue training exercises.
With membership approval, the club first approached the county sheriff’s department about using the soon-to-be-decimated building for training purposes; after the law-enforcement group declined, the opportunity was extended to the fire department.
“[The fire department] was champing at the bit to do it,” reports Eric Price, Quail Ridge’s Director of Community Safety. “Their training center doesn’t offer this to them—it doesn’t allow them to vent ceilings and open up walls, so our clubhouse offered a new opportunity for them.”
From Monday through Friday during the event, 12 new fire trucks showed up every three hours at the site and firefighters punched holes in roofs, breached walls and simulated rescue conditions by blacking out windows and pumping smoke into buildings. No actual fire or water were used, however.
“We wanted to keep the building intact before handing it over for demolition, so we didn’t want to burn the place down,” Price explains. “The department brought smoke machines with them, so they smoked out the building and went through with masks and blindfolds on.”
Doug McGlynn, Battalion Chief of the department’s District 4 unit, says the opportunity to use the old clubhouse was invaluable. “There is no substitute for training our men and women on a real building, to learn how to be safe while doing their dangerous jobs,” says McGlynn. “We thank the Quail Ridge Country Club community for this opportunity to train our firefighters to save lives.”
Fire departments from across Palm Beach County seized the opportunity to train staff in the building, and McGlynn extended the invitation to the city of Delray, Fla., as well. Toward the end of the training event, McGlynn got a request from a bomb squad to use the site for a day, to practice sending device-finding robots into the emptied building.
Of course, the club was closed to members at the time of the training (it will reopen when the new clubhouse is complete in the fall of 2017). “I wish every community would do something like this,” says Price. “The clubhouse was on its last legs, so why not offer it to sheriff’s or fire departments or bomb squads before taking it down to the ground?”
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