Live-Fire Training The New Reality

Harry R. Carter, Ph.D., recounts the latest firefighter training fatalities and reviews standards and practices relating to the use of burn buildings.


We have all read and heard a great deal recently about the issues surrounding the use of live fire at locations other than established, regulated and properly designed training facilities. It is extremely difficult to think about this topic without pondering the fact that lives have been lost. It is...


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After reviewing this list, you can begin to see where all of the hidden costs in using an acquired structure might lie. Never forget for one moment where a failure to consider safety might leave you. Let the results of the New York case be your guide as to what can happen. It is difficult to justify death and injury if you just plain ignore the literature on how to operate safely.

Here are a few more thoughts on training in acquired structures:

  • If you cannot make the building safe, do not use it.
  • If there is a building next door, take pains to protect it.
  • If the building next door cannot be protected, see if it can be taken down. If not, you should consider not operating. While the house that was donated to you might not cost much, burning down the neighbor's can be real expensive.
  • Trees and brush that can spread the fire should be cut back or removed.
  • The utilities to surrounding property must be protected or cut off.
  • Be sure to let the people in the area know that you will be training in their neighborhood.