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Building a live fire training facility

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  • Building a live fire training facility

    Okay, here is the jist of this post. My small volunteer fire department would like to have a live fire training facility.

    One of the ideas being tossed around is using those large (8x8.5x20 or 40) intermodal shipping containers. Modifying them of course for vertical and horizontal ventilation, the addition of exit doors for emergencies, and addition of protection for the steel in the direct burn area (if needed). We are not looking to build a flashover simulator, just something we can use for training our new FF's and for refresher training of other FF.

    If you have built one of these or seen one let me know. I am only looking for comments on why or why not to do this. We will do our best to comply with NFPA 1403.

    Thanks for the help.


  • #2
    I would be very careful about building a unit. There are liabitly questions out the wazoo. I can not rember the town but there was an incident in northern N.J. where a dept./s took a school bus and modified it to a burn room with steel sides and the hole nines with 55 gal. drums to burn in and at least one firefighter died in a burn I think though that it might have been 2. I can't say exactly where they went wrong but I believe NFA has a report on this incident that could be of further help. There are units in firehouse mag. and other publications that might be expensive but probaly well worth their money.


    • #3
      Yea, there are a bunch of safety issues that have to be taken care of before you can put on one of those programs. Live burns in structures, I know you have to have multiple exts from each room, all windows must be broken out but you can leave a piece of ply-wood on it, but it must be removable. There are a bunh of other things too, like minimum number of saftey officers, types of materials being burned, if there are residents nearby you have to have them sign a release, as well as getting all FF's involved to sign waivers and possibly have insurance coverage for it. The insurance I'm not sure about, but it's a lot to undertake.


      • #4
        The career dept where I work has one, built out of a intermodal container. It is built similar to the flashover simulators but is not used to that level.

        It has emergency doors throughout, differentiated by color and feel from the walls. They are panic latched (just push the door and they open) There is a deluge sprinkler system in them. I have relatively little experience with the containers (they are affectionately referred to as Death Ovens). E-mail if you would like and I'll connect you with someone from training.



        • #5
          True, making your own Death Oven would present both constuctional as well as legal issues I wouldnt care to FK with. But on the realism side, exactly how much "training" can one accomplish in such a small "room"? How aboutsearch drills, or vent drills, or hoseline advancement drills, (for you little guys!)(LOL).Sounds like you just want a room to get a little heat, see who can melt thier helmet shields the nicest. (NO disrespect intended, been there, way done that!) The burn center at the Acadmey I instruct at is a 2 story, concrete reinforced 30 x 30 floors, and even that gets boring most of the time...you can only burn 2 pallets and one bale of hay so many times, ya know? If you are looking for a long term investment, i would suggest sitting down with the reps, compare the differences between concrete, and the tin, pre- assembled tuna cans (which do offer more options as far a s floor plans, and may be cheaper, don't know) I believe you will get more fire training for your dollar with a solid concrete fire building. But the bottom line is dn't rush into making something up, just because you want your own place to burn stuff! Be safe!


          • #6
            We understand the liability issue. We intend on building a safe live fire training facility. I did say compliance with NFPA 1403 was a concern.

            This would be built with emergency exits, vertical and horizontal ventilation openings, and with only class A materials used for fuel.

            I am aware of the bus that you mention. This is not what we have in mind.

            51Truck_K, you are so far off base with your comment on looking for a place to melt shields that I even hesitated to respond to you. By the way, saying you mean no disrepsect doesn't cover the fact that that is exactly what you meant. The fact of the matter is we want a place to do small fires to train new people and to refresh our veterans. If we had the budget I would love to put up a concrete burn tower, but we don't.

            As far as size of the burn facility, if we connect 2 intermodal containers that are 8' wide and 40 foot long we would have a burn room of 16 by 40 or 640 squre feet. Our plan is to partition the area off to make at least three rooms. We realize that familiarity with the facility is unavoidable. But the point is to get people in on live fire attacks.

            We have a mobile home that we use for search and rescue training so that isn't a factor in this case.

            The tech college I instruct at has a prefab training tower with a 10 by 20 burn room. Attached to this is a three story tower used for all the other drills you mention. So I am familiar with those types of facilities. Again cost is a factor. The other reason we would like our own facility is because of travel time and equipment out of service to travel to the tower.

            Take care and stay safe,



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