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  • Training Structure Burns

    What are your departmental SOP's concerning training structure burns? Do your personnel actively participate in the preparation of the structure for the burn or do you let some outside business take care of that? I am talking about removing asbestos shingles, old junky furniture from the interior, shingles from a high pitched roof, all the pain in the *^# stuff etc... to make it complient with air pollution guidelnes.

    Do you burn at all? Just smoke the place up with barrels and hay and let a demolition company come in and take care of the structure after your done?

    Just want to find out what others are doing.

    Thanks!!!

  • #2
    I'm glad someone brought up this topic. My department has never (to my knowledge) had the opportunity to use an acquired building for live fire training, but I am looking into the idea. What I'd really like to know is how do you go about obtaining a building? Are they acquired from private owners, or derelict & condemned property acquired through local government? What sort of preparations are necessary to get it ready? I don't think that the burning itself would be too much a problem here. I imagine that we could get several weeks of good training out of just one building before ever taking a match to it (forcible entry, ventilation, search, ladders,etc.). If we could ever get our hands on one I'd want to get as much varied training as I could from it while we have it, rather than just torching it the first time. What kind of evolutions have you done on acquired buildings?
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    • #3
      When dealing with acquired structures, your first stop is NFPA 1403. I have seen two disasters in acquired structure training and can tell you that if the recommendations in 1403 were followed, it never would have happened.
      PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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      • #4
        Mr. Wendt has got it perfect...you must follow NFPA 1403 to ensure the safety of the people being trained. If you don't have a SOP/ROG concerning this, make sure it referances it: ie; "...all training fires shall be in accordance with NFPA 1403." Mark
        My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
        "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
        George Mason
        Co-author of the Second Amendment
        during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
        Elevator Rescue Information

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        • #5
          On the rare occassion we have a building available, the property owner is responsible for obtaining the Burning Permit. This means they are responsible for removing asbestos, asphalt shingles, and anything else that is prohibited from being burned.

          If the property owner is willing to take the neccessary actions to obtain the burn permit, we'll consider doing a live burn. If the building is suitable for training, we'll train in (ventilation, search, room & contents type stuff) first. Usually if it's just an old barn with minimal training value, we'll ask for a donation. We can practice pumping water for a lot less work than setting up to simply burn down a structure.

          We have also turned requests down when the building was too far detoriated, or exposures were too close to be certain no other property would be damaged. And many times once a property owner approaches us and learns they still have to pay to dispose of asbestos & shingles, they find it's cheaper to do a full demoltion.
          IACOJ Canine Officer
          20/50

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          • #6
            Thanks Dalmation 90. You answered my question. I like your procedure of having the owner get the burn permit and then prep the house. As you said they may find it cheaper to let us use it for training then have it demolished. I still feel strongly that it is their responsibility to dispose of the asbestos, shingles and other toxic items.

            Also I appreciate the tip on NFPA 1403

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            • #7
              fire549; PlEASE heed the advice of the other post's-follow NFPA's guidelines to the letter. In Indiana the IFIA(Indiana Fire Instructors Assoc.) have been doing live fire burns for over 20yrs-so I speak from expireince. We normaly will incurr the cost of simple asebetos removal ourself's(i.e.; floor tiles), but if it is extensive we will ask the property owner to cover the cost; usually will fly due to the fact that they must anyway for demolition. As for the rest of the work on the building; we do it ourselves; helps hold cost down. This can be the best training that a ff can recieve if done properly. But remember that there are people out there trying to do away with just this type of training-lets not givem anymore reasons. Good luck and be save brother.

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              • #8
                Good point Squad12. We always follow safety guidelines. NFPA 1403 is a valuable guide. It is important to hold down costs. We also have local and state guidelines similiar to the NFPA's.

                I am more interested in your procedures to prep the structure. What do you do when the preparing the structure puts your people in dange? Two or three story with high pitched roofs for example. Should the owner of the property be responsible? How about disposing of the regulated materials? I do agree with your point on the great training aspect of the preparation but where does your department draw the line?

                We are very cautious during the training to make sure things are safe. We will basically use the building for S&R, thermal imaging, maybe some forcible entry etc... We will not place FF's in a dangerous position. We plan on smoking up the building with barrels and hay.

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                • #9
                  I think what you are planning to do to your structure is what we call a "room and content" fire and not an actual "burn down". We therefore do not need State permits and only need to vent the roof as opposed to removing all the roofing material. Referencing the disposal of regulated material; we will use protective equipment and place all material in certified(contractors grade) garbage bags and take them to local enviro company for disposal. Check with your local company for they are usually very helpul and informative.

                  I can also truthfully say that we have never used a structure over 2 stories for a burn down but have used several 2 story building's.

                  Roof preparation is done only by safety instructors and not students. During evalutions the roof team is always accompanied by ,at least 2, safety instructors at all times. I believe that you must remove as much of the hazards as possible, but then remember that you are hopefully using these type's of buildings for "real world experience" and not a concrete burn building, where actual learning is limited- hard to get them concrete walls opened up.

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                  • #10
                    We rarely get the chance to do live fire training in a condemned structure, 99 percent of the time they are too close to other exposures so we have the owner have them pushed into a pile as far away from the exposures as possible and just do a controlled burn, we at least get training on hose lays, water curtains, PPE, truck spotting and just simply, more experience for people to find equipment on the trucks and see how we work together as a team.
                    we have had a very few that we have done training in before we burned them, most of the time we do practice on structure entry with different simulated fire locations, and then we will set a fire and basically let the younger guys watch the progression of it and discuss the different options for attack.
                    we require the property owner to sign a release form that relieves us from any liability for property damage and gives us permission to burn the structure or pile.
                    even with a pile you can write it up at least as an exposure protection class and use it for ISO training points, if you have a sign in sheet and details of the class on the form.
                    maybe we are asking for it but we have never asked the owners to do the asbestous removal or anything like that. we do go and make sure there isnt anything like bullets, dynamite, chemicals etc in it before we go to work on it, and make sure the utility hookups/meters are out of the way
                    Tyler

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                    • #11
                      We have a number of training facilities in the area. The Monmouth County Fire Academy, NJ, where I received my training has a two story burn building. It is a prefab from a company that specializes in burn buildings. They also have a cement block two story smokehouse. Nearby Fort Monmouth Army Base has a gas fed live burn building that tops out at about 1700 degrees. We have 1 drill a year there. Neighboring town of Asbury Park has a residence that they bought for use as a burn/training house. I belive they only smoke that up...hope this helps. OGNJFirefighter

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                      • #12
                        We have a number of training facilities in the area. The Monmouth County Fire Academy, NJ, where I received my training has a two story burn building. It is a prefab from a company that specializes in burn buildings. They also have a cement block two story smokehouse. Nearby Fort Monmouth Army Base has a gas fed live burn building that tops out at about 1700 degrees. We have 1 drill a year there. Neighboring town of Asbury Park has a residence that they bought for use as a burn/training house. I belive they only smoke that up...hope this helps. OGNJFirefighter

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                        • #13
                          Feel fortunate that you even get to burn. Yes, it may be a pain in the [email protected]#, but the final product speks for itself. Thats the best training that a department could ask for. In my area we're not allowed to have a control burn. I just attended a firefighter rescue and survival class in a neighboring city and the tower is preplumbed with propane. It was like putting water on a Bar-b-que.

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