Fire Department’s new burn building ready for training

Aug. 03, 2014 @ 09:15 PM

The Durham Fire Department has a hot new addition to its training tools -- a “burn building” that lets firefighters safely train in real-world conditions.
The $482,000, solid-steel building is at the department’s training grounds on East Club Boulevard. It replaces an older burn building that had become unsafe to use.
Training staff can set fires in the building using straw and wooden pallets, closely simulating conditions they would face in a house fire, Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi said.
“Firefighters can practice searches, rescues and fire extinguishment in a controlled environment but with a live fire,” he said. “It won’t be theater smoke. You’ll actually have high heat and dense smoke, with no visibility.”
The new building, which will be used for the first time Aug. 15, is safer for firefighters to train in than an abandoned building. It’s also conveniently located and available any day of the year.
“In the past, firefighters have been killed in other parts of the United States and the world in acquired structures,” Iannuzzi said. “This building is safer because the walls can’t catch on fire and the roof can’t collapse. If something goes wrong, we can get people out.”
The burn building has obstacles that force firefighters to snake around different rooms. There are movable partitions to create “maze-type situations” and training props to teach firefighters how to breach walls, he said. There’s even a pitched roof so firefighters can practice climbing ladders and cutting ventilation holes.
“It’s state of the art,” Iannuzzi said. “All types of training can be done in there.”
Iannuzzi said “it’s fantastic for us, because any time a fire company officer wants to do training, they can come. There’s also a lot of new information on how fire behaves and we’re employing new fire tactics, and we’ll continue training the department on them with this new building.”