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...


Fuels that are used during live fire training should have predictable burning characteristics consistent of class "A" combustibles. Debris found within the structure that is not of this consistency should be cleared away out of the structure. There are some fuels such as woods that are treated with chemicals such as pressurized woods, rubber products, plastics of all types and flammable combustible liquids are all never to be used in training fires.

Who's In Charge

Another important feature that should be present at all live fire training in acquired structures should be the presence and appointment of a safety officer. The safety officer is not the same person that would be in charge or have overall command of the operation. This person should have a good knowledge base in the areas of fire behavior and fire suppression activities regardless of his rank. He holds and has the ultimate authority to shut down activities involved in the fire training evolution at any time due to an unsafe condition or situation.

Pre-Planning Strategies

Safety concerns involving live fire training should not only be conducted during the training event but should have been a major portion in the preplanning strategies when setting up the structure and the training evolutions for live fire training exercises. How can we be sure that an acquired structure has been safely and appropriately prepared for live fire training exercises? Let's highlight some of the important areas when preparing an acquired structure for live fire training. It is obvious that a complete inspection of the property be conducted to insure that a basic integrity of the structure itself is present. All hazardous materials found or stored within the walls or on the premises should be removed. Any containers that may be found that are assembled in such away as to provide for the allowance of building pressure under heat conditions causing them to become projectile missiles or explosives should be removed.

Roof conditions should thoroughly be examined for their integrity as well as any chimney stacks that may have the potential to collapse should also be considered for removal. Any areas on the interior of the structure that will provide for unwanted fire extension and travel such as holes in walls and ceilings should be covered. Any large objects or increased weight bearing areas should be removed or reinforced in order to avoid collapse especially in the areas above the fire training that is to be conducted. Sometimes it's a good idea to even remove bathtubs on second and third floors depending upon where their relationship is to the areas of fire training or rooms of ignition.

Operations And Activities

During all live fire training exercises another important feature to remember when conducting multi-company tasks is to avoid allowing companies to engage in activities above the fire area except in the case of roof operations. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred in rooms and areas above a live fire training exercise. In order to avoid many of these situations good preplanning involving and providing for adequate ventilation openings should be created predominantly in the roof areas of the structure. This will allow for the escape of heat and toxic smoke as well as any other explosive type gases.

Additionally all participants should be briefed on the proper hose line advancement techniques as they relate to the nozzleman, backup man, turn or door man and officer. Members on the hose line should review and check the nozzles patterned position and flow before entering structure. Participants entering a structure under live fire conditions will be in a crawling position with the hose line and nozzle between the participants and the fire at all times. The interior live fire instructors along with the acting company officer will supply the direction to the nozzleman regarding application of water to the fire. This will avoid a complete knock down or extinguishment of the fire area in order to continue repetitive live burns in the same room or area. All members on the hose line should be accounted for after the knock down of the fire and then retreat from the building with the hose line making sure to stay low. After all participants are outside of the structure another accountability check should be conducted and to make certain that there are no minor injuries.