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  • Concrete Building Firefighters

    I have recently attended a course in which the instructor made the comment "We are training our firefighters to be concrete building firefighters". What he was refering to was the fact that today's recruits live fire training consists of bulding a Class A fire in a fully concrete or metal building and expecting our future firefighters to be proficient in the type of firefighting we actually do. I find this also to be true. Several departments have eliminated the use of aquired structures for interior live fire evolutions. How do we assure that our troops know the difference and act or react accordingly? How does the new firefighter know what a floor feels like before it collapses if he has never felt this in training. How does he know the differences between the color of smoke that leads to a bad situation if he has never actually seen it with the exception of possibly a video tape? Does this leave the company officer at a disadvantage trying to train the concrete building firefighter in the " real stuff ".
    Just some thoughts.
    Clifford Montgomery
    Fire Chief
    Blue Grass Army Depot Fire & Emergency Services

  • #2
    I apologize

    [ 07-06-2001: Message edited by: ntvilleff ]

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    • #3
      ntville: Understood. It happens, been there, knew I made a mistake too...

      [ 07-09-2001: Message edited by: M G ]

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      • #4
        Not only are we training in a unrealistic way we are protecting the guys "TOO" well, the senses you used to be able to rely on are now protected keeping you in longer allowing you to get deeper before you realize something is wrong.

        Thermal imaging has advanced firefighting probably more than anything else in the past few years but if you look at a median age fire fighter on the line has only two to three years service. If he started with a department that had thermal imaging, and was using it in a house fire today with the camera failing, would he fall back on his basics in training? I see several cameras across the state of KY but when I ask a firefighter how often he trains with the camera vs how much interior training he has with out the camera, it is freightening.

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        • #5
          this is just a symptom of the dumbing down of the american firefighter. the disease is caused by overeducated book-bred chiefs such as Bruancini and other "safe" chiefs that would rather see a room-and-contents fire burn an entire structure down than have firemen enter the structure and save a persons entire material being. the cure? who knows...every thing else we do (EMS, Tech Rescue, Haz Mat) waters down our true mission, and one that NO ONE ELSE can do, and that is FIRE FIGHTING!!!!

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          • #6
            I have taught some live fire training in a concrete burn building and I do not care for it. I feel it is good for a new firefighter to see what fire behavior can do in a somewhat controled enviroment. This is also a good time for them to experience how to put the fire out. But, if you want to learn how to fight fire the right way you need a aquired building. That way you can see how the fire really acts and what it can do to a building

            [ 07-04-2001: Message edited by: WebTeam ]

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            • #7
              hot Damn...

              So Phoenix FD doesn't do interior firefighting...even for a room and contents fire? Are you sure about this or are you just feeding us a line of BS because you don't have a better argument? I think you may be a little paranoid or a little misinformed. I'm open to hearing input from people, but when you start making stuff up it gets ridiculous.

              I don't think anyone would disagree that an acquired house would provide better training than a concrete burn house, but they really aren't very easy to attain...especially for an ongoing training program.

              If anyone on here has some other training solutions, lets hear 'em. I believe what it boils down to is that a lot of initial training will be based out of burn building and then it's on-the-job training from there. Unfortunately, there aren't enough houses out there for every fire dept. to burn up on a regular basis for training...and this has nothing to do with any chiefs.

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              • #8
                i`ve been through firefighter 1 and 2 and just recently went through them both again and most instructors will tell you that most of your traning is the basics and the book way of how things are done. it is the O J T that you learn how things really work. we can`t fight fires with a book and i`ve never been on no two fires that were the same.

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                • #9
                  How do we assure that our troops know the difference and act or react accordingly?

                  We're supposed to tell them war stories and hope they learn from our experience.

                  How does the new firefighter know what a floor feels like before it collapses if he has never felt this in training.

                  For a prop, a mattress under a .25" piece of plywood gives a somewhat similar feel. Otherwise, we're supposed to tell them war stories and hope they learn from our experience.

                  How does he know the differences between the color of smoke that leads to a bad situation if he has never actually seen it with the exception of possibly a video tape?

                  We're supposed to tell them war stories and hope they learn from our experience.

                  Does this leave the company officer at a disadvantage trying to train the concrete building firefighter in the " real stuff ".

                  Yes.

                  But, I think we limit ourselves. Agreed there is no substitute for experience and, short of that, training in aquired structures, but burn buildings can be designed or modified to allow continual more realistic than pallets, hay or LP gas in a concrete building training.

                  You might have to get approval from your states tree huggers, uh, I mean clean air board, but following is a potential solution to the tradional concrete building when aquired structures aren't readily available.

                  1. Design or modify the building to easily stud and restud the walls and ceiling. You can bolt channel iron to the existing concrete walls or use hilti-bolts to bolt/secure the studs to the concrete.

                  2. Stud the walls and ceiling. An option to the ceiling would be to use chain to hang particle board similar to the ceiling in a flashover prop.

                  3. Dry in with sheetrock (I wouldn't waste time with tape and bed), particle board or plywood.

                  4. Paint the walls/ceiling if you want.

                  5. Secure combustible materials to the walls/ceiling. In aquired structures we get bales of crushed boxes from the grocery store and secure them to the walls/ceiling with a roofing stapler.

                  6. Load with aquired furniture.

                  When you burn it out, just reload it.

                  After the initial mod, depending on the size of the building, it should only take a day or so to set up. We spend at least that much time preping aquired structures, so we've lost nothing there.
                  It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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                  • #10
                    No matter where you are in the world, there will always be better and different ways to train firefighters. I just hope that when you train it is in a safe manner and not harming the personnel who are under instruction. I personally have never felt what it is like to have a floor collapse beneath me and I hope that I never will.

                    I expect that I will judge that feeling if ever I was in that position. But hopefully, the dynamic risk assessments that are being undertaken by the OIC of an incident and the safety officers will consider whether a tactical withdrawal should be implemented before a collapse occurs. Most fires that we attend are fought from the inside out but now and again it will have to be tackled the other way around, for safety reasons.

                    Modern training centres will have rat runs, heat chambers and flashover rooms. Videos will show pre-flashover and back draught conditions. Input on building construction is important and early signs of collapse will be drummed into the candidate at an early stage. How to move and search in a building will be acted and re-acted time and time again until it becomes second nature.
                    The use of thermal image cameras has assisted in quick entry and pulsing fog spray attacks into smoke has reduced the chance of a flashover occurring. These new ideas have change the way we consider our firefighting tactics. We are always learning and we will never know it all. We rely on each other as a team and the expert guides the novice. Telling of past experiences will assist in backing up the input into training as long as we don't get into the rut of telling 'chest puffing' tales.

                    I wonder if a soldier gets much of a steep learning input if he is shot on manoeuvres. I suppose he will then know what it is like to be shot when he goes into battle.
                    Kindest regards & keep safe,

                    Sprinkle (UK)
                    www.sprinkle2.homestead.com

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                    • #11
                      I just want to say upfront, this is not intended to sound snotty, or bashy. Is this training, better then no live fire training at all? While I agree that it is not completely realistic, burn buildings are a very valuable means for us to introduce probie's (cadets, candidates), and new vollie's to high heat, limited visibility, and the limitations of equipment, in a controlled environment. It also allows for numerous types of scenario's to be performed at 1 time, and not have to worry about what's going on under you, next to, or above you. You always know that if something happens or one of your probie's freak out, the stairwell is controlled and you can exit with him rapidly. In fact in my personal opinion, I feel that most of these concrete burn buildings came about because, of firefighter deaths involving live burns in vacant houses and such. And also the fact that some states out law live burns, and how often do some of you really come up with houses to live burn in? As far as the protecting us too much, that's a whole nother post that's gone around here a 100 times already. Secondly, I went through the academy in a concrete building. And learned what I had to know, from being with my first engine and truck companies. On a volunteer level I understand its a little more complicated but no probie should be on a line without and experienced firefighter and/or officer.

                      Finally, in response to some other opinions with my own. Would you rather work for an "unsafe Chief." I admit, I like passive aggressive chiefs, but lets clarify that. Also our main function is FIRE PREVENTION, and public safety.

                      Gah, and Les, great posts. Everyone else good posts. This is a very good topic of discussion.
                      ===========================================
                      The above is my opinion only and doesn't reflect that of any dept/agency I work for, deal with, or am a member of.

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                      • #12
                        We recently got a new chief that is very aggresive on the training side of things. It has been great. In the past we heard often that we could not get an abandoned house to do live burn drills with. Since the new change we have burned one home and cut up three others to my knowledge. It was great. I do see advantages to each option. It is good to use the concrete/metal burn props to start, then bring the students to the old homes to see the differences. What better way to learn about the fire in void spaces, how to properly ventilate, attack and then overhaul a structure. I'm sure there is some red tape to run through, but it seems to me that you can find the houses if you really wanted to and could get the support of the administration.

                        Just some thoughts.
                        Firefighter/Paramedic Ron Sanders
                        Midvale Fire Department
                        Medic Ambulance 22 - A Platoon

                        Firefighters, Walking where the Devil Danced!

                        This is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.

                        Personal Website: http://RonSanders.Biz Check it Out!

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                        • #13
                          Live fire training is an integral part of the learning experience. If there is an opportunity to burn a real structure, that is great! If it's off in the middle of nowhere and you can get the necessary permits and insure that the building is structurally sound...go for it!

                          A lot of times, you will get a request to burn an abandoned structure...the owner of the property offers it to the local FD to burn down (it saves him the demolition costs). The structure has been abandoned for years... it is vermin and insect infested...the floors are rotted, the ceilings and roof are caving in and it's in or in close proximity to a residential area...not conducive to firefighter safety and good public relations.

                          My class as the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (go #56!) was the last group to burn an acquired structure. We originally has two structures..an old chicken coop that had been converted to a guest house and a two story farmhouse in Sturbridge donated by Massachusetts Electric. The "guest house" was in Lexington at the end of a cul de sac in a residential area. The Academy got all of the necessary permits, but the operation was shut down because of neighborhood complaints. The house in Sturbridge was on a 10 acre site off of route 20...no complaints there!

                          A firefighter can get a lot of experience in training in a concrete building. Mongo brought up a lot of excellent points..we can make it as "real" as possible in training..and still keep it safe.

                          We have to treat every fire we fight as a learning experience. We all like to listen to the "war stories", but we have to remember who is telling them..and they tend to get embellished over time! To paraphrase a popular quote...those who forget the problems of fighting the last fire are condemned to repeat them!

                          [ 07-06-2001: Message edited by: Captain Gonzo ]
                          ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                          Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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                          • #14
                            I think that both "real structures" and training structures have a place in the training of firefighters. Although "real" structures are hard to come by they are a great tool if used properly, we had a chief once who several times secured one of these structures and told us how much great training we were going to get and when it was all siad and done we stood around and watched it burn---we lost a few members becouse this chief did not put forth much effort or thought into training sessions.
                            Firefighter/CCEMT-P
                            May we ride into the darkness only to return as safe as we started!!

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                            • #15
                              i agree with you c. in april we simply showed the class an incipient looking fire (free burning, little smoke) with unnatural levels of heat. another problem with burn buildings is a result of the cost of the lining materials. it is almost too cost prohibitive to get it hot, because you damage the panels. i hear next year we will have an acquired structure for the ckfa school. a much better opportunity to learn.

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