FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WCMH) – Several central Ohio fire departments will get some use out of the Westland Mall property before it’s demolished.

Franklin Township firefighters spent part of Wednesday and Thursday training inside a building behind the former mall’s main building.

“We’ve been working on large open area search and rescue, long hose deployments, so if the fire is in the back of the store or in the middle of the store and it’s a couple hundred feet to get there, we have different hose loads and tactics to get to that fire as quick as possible with as much water as possible,” Chief Bob Arnold of the Franklin Township Fire Department said.

Arnold has seen the different phases of the property, and said he was glad his crews got to train inside part of it before it gets torn down.

“It’s great just to see progress to get this training in, get it torn down, and then make way for new improvement,” Arnold said.

As part of the training, the department filled parts of the building with fake smoke. The easiest way to see what was going on was on one of the department’s thermal imaging cameras.

One of the drills involved rescuing a firefighter who was down.

“It serves a great purpose doing an awesome experience for the firefighters in this community and getting the guys trained and some experience in large structures,” Arnold said.

Demolition of the building the firefighters trained in is set to begin next week, according to Franklin Township Trustee John Fleshman. Demolition of the main building will take place later in the spring, Fleshman said.

“It’s one of those biggest things, if we can take that instead of tearing it down right away, and we can get any kind of training that’s going to help our people and help our public,” Fleshman said. “For us to be able to utilize that and work with other departments around us and share because we all work together on a big fire, it was great to be able to have that opportunity.”

Westland Mall opened in 1969. Sears was its last store, and it closed in 2017. Earlier this year, Governor Mike DeWine announced funding for the mall’s demolition.