During the course of the last two months our fire district has been training in an acquired structure that will be torn down in the near future to be replaced by an office building. The last training conducted in the structure consisted of stretching hand lines in through the outside basement entrance and advancing them into the 1st floor bedrooms to simulate a second floor fire in a two story home. This day we conducted 6 evolutions consisting of (3) three person companies with 2 instructors in the building. One instructor was assigned to the basement level with another on the 1st floor. After the completion of the last evolution the instructor in the basement called me down to show me something he had found. Over the last month or so metal scavengers have been ransacking the home tearing out anything metal that can be sold. What we found was the scavengers cut out the main support I beam in the basement leaving the floor joi sts that contained 3 nails each supporting the load where they overlapped. Luckily enough this was an older home built in the 60’s and nothing happened but the potential was there.
Prior to any training session in an acquired structure, survey the structure to make sure nothing has been done that will alter the stability of the building. Secure the building to try and prevent this from happening. In our case the scavengers had permission from the builder to be there but no limits were set on what could be taken. If this situation happens to anyone else, establish ground rules on what can be taken and what has to stay.