Manufacturers Roundtable: Firefighter Training Facilities

Firehouse Magazine recently asked a sampling of manufacturers of firefighter training facilities to participate in a roundtable discussion focused on issues such as ways in which their facilities help firefighters meet their training goals, after-the-sale...

In fact, the process of maintenance begins long before the project's completion and the owner's and users move in. Understanding how the facility will be maintained even prior to design is vital. As an example, some of the questions we ask are "What are your management plans, replacement schedules, user fees? After the use of each of your training props, does debris need to be removed? Do you have a plan for storing vehicles to be used in extrication evolutions?" While these training facility types are dynamic and "working" facilities, they should be designed such that they do not become junk yards but rather instill a high degree of professionalism which parallels the profession. We begin the project by finding ways to work with facilities management in understanding the long term management of our client's facilities beyond the sale. This lowers the cost to run and maintain the project and insures a long term positive relationship for both the design team and the users of the facilities.

Temperly: At TSG we are very concerned with the longevity and maintenance requirements of our structures and provide each element with that in mind. Certain components such as the exterior skins are manufactured from base steel that is galvanized then factory coated with two coats of baked on enamel. Other components such as burn room doors and shutters are powder coated for durability still other components are furnished in stainless steel for both durability and corrosion resistance. Our burn room insulation system combines the time tested calcium silicate insulation products with new technologies to greatly improve its performance and durability.

The extreme uses that these facilities are put through do necessitate some level of maintenance. Normally, minor repairs can be accomplished locally but we are also prepared to offer our services to do repairs and/or modifications to our towers. We can also modify or repair towers of other designs.

Jahnke: WHP offers full turnkey support to its customers. From start to finish - and beyond. The customer has one number to call to get their questions answered or concerns addressed. Maintenance of the building is simple and straight forward. Elements of the building, unlike concrete and block structures, are readily observable and any wear is easy to identify and mediate. All major components are hot dipped galvanized, which protects against rust. Most maintenance is minor and can be handled by local personnel. WHP offers inspection services designed to help departments extend the life of their facility. Additionally, we actively reach out to our customer base to share with them innovative ways that they can maximize the use of their facility. We work closely with our customers to help design additions, incorporate new options and maintain their existing structure.

Firehouse: Funding is a challenge for all fire departments. Do you have staff and/or programs that help departments obtain grants and other funding lines?

Egelin: At Fireblast we know finding and receiving grants can be overwhelming. That's why our marketing team is dedicated to researching new grant opportunities and passing these resources onto our potential customers. The Fireblast team can assist in devising a funding solution package to meet your unique training needs. Fireblast customers have been extremely successful in being awarded local and federal grants to purchase training equipment. Most of those customers have provided us with samples of their successful grant applications which our potential clients can utilize as an additional tool.

Hajewski: We have teamed up with a third party to research and assist with the grantwriting process. Available grants are constantly changing and evolving, so this partnership is a great resource for customers to educate themselves on what's out there. Additionally, Fire Facilities' has a leasing program that can help provide departments with financing for their training structure or mobile unit.

Harris & Schaer: TCA has assisted many departments with their funding. We recently worked with one of our clients who received the third largest fire station government construction grant in the country. Our role is typically one of support. We have programs and processes that allow us to work quickly with our clients in determining their training, facility and operational needs. We also can develop space diagrams, floor and site test to fit study plans as well as simple design documents to prepare them for community presentations, public outreach and bond elections if that is their goal. In paraphrasing a recent resident in favor of an upcoming fire station bond election, the real message in getting public bond measures to pass is not that the resident will have an increase in taxes, but that they are investing in their community's future. They are investing in their rescue personnel's ability to respond to their emergencies. How well they are trained and the ability of the Department to do that effectively will result in saved lives. Our philosophy is that these facilities are community investments and if we can help our clients get their needs established and show the community what the possibilities are in a positive way, the chances of getting money to build their project is much more likely.