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...

Hajewski: The fundamental construction of FFI's towers is unique to the marketplace: A red iron framework bolts together to provide exceptional strength and design flexibility. This allows customers to locate windows and doors just about anywhere they wish, and also provides the ideal foundation for building customization or future additions. To provide instructors with data on burn room temperatures, our pyrometer system stores data which is transferred to an SD card using an infrared reader. The data can then be easily manipulated and graphed using spreadsheet software. No specialized software is required.

Harris & Schaer: While there are many advancing technologies which continue to be incorporated into training props, burn systems, virtual simulators and even the trainers themselves we still believe first and foremost that focusing on low maintenance, durability and low technical solutions to develop muscle memory is the top priority.

Energy use is a big topic now in design and construction and many of the recent advances in technology are focused on this aspect. TCA designed the first LEED fire station in the country and currently under construction is TCA's design for the first LEED platinum fire station. This station is also designed to allow it to operate without public electrical service. It is designed to operate off the grid. While clients are not yet required to get LEED certification in most communities, the lessons learned from these efforts benefit other current and future clients through use of energy saving systems, safer and healthier materials and knowing they may be helping the overall local and global environment. Often times, not using a material is the solution as opposed to trying to find something environmentally appropriate. The use of bare concrete floors and concrete block walls are a couple of examples. No added flooring material just concrete. In the end, the client has a facility that has a lower cost to run, lower cost to maintain and lasts longer. Its "firefighter proof" as we call it.

As long as flexibility is designed into your infrastructure and systems, your facility should be able to accommodate change. Changes which we could begin to imagine today may be necessary skills needed tomorrow. Be forward thinking in your solutions and use of technologies, yet don't forget to focus on those core operations which will be slow to change.

While there are many advancing technologies which continue to be incorporated into new and renovated facilities, we still believe first and foremost focusing on perfecting rescue skills that likely will occur in your community, using low maintenance, durable and low technical solutions that have been proven to be healthier and safer for the users is the top priority.

Temperly: We are constantly investigating new materials, systems and designs and evaluating their value as pertains to fire training structures. We employ a state of the art digital temperature monitoring system in all of our burn rooms. This system logs time and temperature data and can be downloaded to a PC for storage. Our TSG Thermo Board burn room insulation employs both mechanical and chemical innovations that provide enhanced performance as well as increased durability.

Our structural design concept provides the facility with a structural steel frame that does not protrude into the working space of the facilities floor plan. This is more and more important when adding maze systems or collapse structure rescue training scenarios. Our floor and flat roof designs include concrete floors that are pitched to external drains which control the volumes of water introduced during training scenarios. The buildup of water within a tower is a primary cause of premature corrosion issues and these floor designs solve that problem while providing a smooth walking surface.

Jahnke: We are constantly looking for new materials and techniques to give the customer a better building at a lower cost. We introduced to the industry a Powder Coat paint process for a higher quality and more durable finish. We also introduced a brick veneer option to dress up the training building to better harmonize with the surrounding community. We have developed a new fastenerless mounting system for the thermal liner which makes for easy inspection behind the panels. We added an entire line of Haz-Mat props. Our staff is constantly evaluating and re-evaluating better materials, refining processes and making more durable and user friendly buildings. We continually strive to improve our structures to keep them competitively priced and state-of-the-art in fire training.