Live Fire Training - Part 1

Over the last few years we have seen it time and again regarding the injuries and deaths to firefighters on the training ground regarding live burns. They involve individuals from the rookie to the seasoned veteran and the cause of these injuries and...


Over the last few years we have seen it time and again regarding the injuries and deaths to firefighters on the training ground regarding live burns. They involve individuals from the rookie to the seasoned veteran and the cause of these injuries and deaths are related to several factors and consistent repetitive mistakes.

Training fires can be even more hazardous then actual structure fires. Over the last few years we have seen it time and again regarding the injuries and deaths to firefighters on the training ground regarding live burns. They involve individuals from the rookie to the seasoned veteran and the cause of these injuries and deaths are related to several factors and consistent repetitive mistakes. Lives burns are a invaluable experience in educating a firefighter's attitude and skills when involved in fire suppression activities. When you can experience heat, smoke and flame fronts in a training environment you have given the firefighter a dose of reality for the real deal. Unfortunately these experiences using acquired structures and real fires provide many inherent risks. The tragedies that can happen at a real fire can definitely happen at your acquired structure training fire. A repetitive history of departments failing in the areas of basic safety, procedures and precautions have been increasingly documented. With NFPA 1403 we can limit the risks associated with this type of training. It is very important for training officers and instructors involved in live fire training exercises to be thoroughly versed in this minimum standard that applies to the areas of acquired structures.

There has been a steady decline of actual fires as we all know over the past twenty years. But what has also declined drastically is the ability for fire departments to be able to conduct live fire training due to several factors of red tape, EPA approval, permits, contractors, home owners and a host of paperwork that needs to be done before an actual training fire can even be conducted. Finding appropriate facilities for structural live fire training can be very difficult and almost next to impossible. The main purpose and function of live fire training whether it is conducted in an acquired structure or burn building is to provide a solid quality of training in the fire experience. Training toward realism while incorporating the right skills and competencies for firefighters in order to increase fire ground safety and understanding is a clear objective. This is an excellent way in dealing with the real world responses in structural firefighting.

The relationship of a burn building or fire tower and an actual acquired structure is entirely two different animals. One is of relative concrete construction which allows for better controlled fire behavior while the other can be totally unpredictable if not prepared and planned for in the right way. The burning of an acquired structure for the purposes of conducting live fire training is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly or gone into without understanding the risks involved. The acquired structure delivers some extreme realities in experiencing the heat, smoke and combat of fighting fires. If you don't understand fire behavior along with building construction you have no business conducting these events. There's a safe way to train and a wrong way when it comes to live fire training. In order to train firefighters and allow them the experience of live fire we must be able to minimize the potential for injury and even death.

NFPA 1403 Standards

 

With the enactment of NFPA 1403 we at least have a document or plan that provides us the minimum requirements for training our members under live fire conditions. Basically NFPA 1430 sets up a plan or a process and provides a checklist of conducted behaviors involving a safe approach to this type of training as well as minimizing certain risks. A good way to look at NFPA 1403 while using its guidelines for live fire training is to help you and your involvement within acquired structures to be safe and sensible. NFPA 1403 provides guidelines for both acquired structures involving interior live burns as well as fires conducted in fire buildings involving the burning of natural combustibles and also natural gas/propane fired training structures.

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