Thread: training tower

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    Default training tower

    hi all i was wondering if anyone has a diagrahm of their training towers? we are trying to secure funding for a small training ground and are looking for estimates and specs for a wooden three story training tower.
    thx mm

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    elk1544,

    There are a couple things I would suggest when looking at a tower. As with most things I give my two cents on, I'll give you more questions than answers. Regarding the diagrams I would suggest looking at companies that build towers, it's a lot like looking at floor plans when you decide to build a house. I went to Fire Facilities (who built our tower) and they have a lot to look at. Sure there are other companies out there as well.

    Regarding your training facility. Will you have room to expand down the road? I know you are in planning phase but do you have plans for 3, 5 and years down the road? Will you be the only department using it our will mutual aid and law enforcement use it as well? Have you toured other facilities? You can get some idea of our facility by checking out: www.kvfd.net. It started with a tower in 94, classroom in 95 then draft pit, concrete along the way, vent roof, car fire, Christmas tree, rescue area, fire simulator in tower, training station, flash over simulator, confined space, grain bin and we are always looking to add to it.

    Now for the tower. Why wood? Once you find something you like compare the cost of building with wood vs. metal. Our tower is a Captain model that is 15 years old and was just inspected by Fire Facilities, they estimated we have another 15+ years without problems in the life of our tower. When I think of a training tower I think about water and wonder how well the wood will work over the years. Going with Fire Facilities will also give you hard numbers regarding cost. So much for the package, so much for construction, etc. Is erecting it yourself an option to get it done at a lower price? This is a long term investment so make sure you do it right.

    Have you decided what you want to be able to do with this tower? Just looking at search and rescue or do you want to do rope training as well? Want to flow water inside? Because of the cost you want to be able to do as much as possible with it. Again, checking out the websites will give you some information and the reps can help you as well.

    Have you considered using metal shipping containers (connex's) to build it? There are several departments that have done this and it appears to work well. One of the fire service trade magazines had an article about training facilities in the last year or so and one was built using connex's. Thinking somewhere between Oct 08-Apr 09 if my memory serves me well. The military builds whole training villages in this manner. Look around in your area and you should find someone that deals in them. Prices fluctuate but the last one's we got were $2,000 for a 20' and $2,500 for a 40'. Gives you an idea at least of the money I'm talking. You would have to put doors and windows in but metal fabrication shop should be able to square you away.

    Let me know if you have other questions. You might have to start small but it's amazing what you can get done with time and persistence.

    Good luck,
    Walt
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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    ffwalt lots of good info and questions. i will try to answer them all and ask a few new ones. first we are very limited on room. we are a small volunteer fd in southern il an only have avout a 300 x 300 area for room. second i have thought at least 5 yrs in props and training needs as best as i could. second i looked at fire facilities for the volunteer series burn and storage rooms. we have no buildings over three stories and no other areas for rope rescue needed. third mutual aid depts will be given access to the grounds to train as much as they see fit. fourth we were thinking wood for budgetary. i am looking at money from senators/ congresman and am shooting for 100 grand total. it does not seem like much but that is 10 times our operating budget and gives us a training ground which only two other depts in 12 or so counties have. fifth looking at live fire training as it has become rare to none because of epa on burning houses but most are ss residential. also looking for diagrahms on roof prop for vertical ventilation, flat roof, door and window prop, and car fire simulator. also thank you for the info and thoughts for discussion
    mm

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    Glad to hear that you are doing your research. It will be very important to plan ahead since you have a small space and will want to maximize the area. Reason I asked about other departments is because if this facility is used by multiple entities then it looks better next time you ask for money or a grant.

    Another thought is infrastructure. Are we talking just a basic dirt lot or is there some concrete in place or roads? Think about access to the props because I know of one department that has a nice tower but no concrete or anything around it and when it's been wet they call the wrecker before they go train to get the apparatus out. Although concrete and asphalt are ideal a good rock base will work just fine. These are the types of things I mean in planning ahead.

    I figured wood was budgetary and it will work, keep the wheels turning in case there is something better.

    You want 2-3 stories, ventilation and live fire training. I'll throw some thoughts out there for you, and anyone else, to evaluate.

    I say go with connex's because that may give you the most bang for your buck and because it's my idea that means it is right.

    First, just like everything else, NFPA has a standard for live fire training and training structures, it is important that you review the standard to ensure you understand and meet it. This part of the research you have to do.

    You have to find prices for your area and you may be able to get some donated, but let's say a 40' connex cost $3,000 delivered and you buy 6 of them. You have spent $18,000 or 18% of your anticipated budget.

    Stack two connex's on top of each other and then three high beside it, all door facing the same way. You will have a footprint that is approximately 16'x40'. Take the final connex and place it on the end of the stack, opposite the doors for your burn room. Make sure that the connex's are secured together either by bolting through the lift/anchor holes or weld them together. I would also suggest anchoring them to the ground.

    Adapting the connex's for your use will take some metal work to build basic doors and windows. This can all be done on the ground before they are stacked and secured. You can also build interior stairs going from one floor to the next. Again this will take some money but depending how skilled your guys are and community support it could be done reasonably. The connex's can easily be moved using a tilt bed (Land All) trailer if you need to take them to the metal shop. Our local towing company donated the hauling when we had our flash over simulator built.

    Regarding the burn room connex. You could utilize a 20' connex and it would save you some money but it's usually worth spending the extra $500 and getting a 40'. Once adapted you can use this until it is no longer functional and at that point pull it our and replace it. You could build doors at both ends and sub divide the connex into two rooms allowing prep to burn in one room while the other is burnt. You will have to think this through to ensure ventilation, egress, safety, safety, safety but it can be done.

    Another option you could easily add is forcible entry. I have seen departments use chunks of dowel to hold the door shut and when pried open the dowel breaks. There would be a lot of options on how to do this but it would be a good training prop when going to search the structure.

    A pitched roof and a flat roof could be constructed on the double stacked connex's. This would give your guys experience on laddering, ascending with tools, making the cut and descending.

    The car fire might be the easiest one. Get a junk car, set it on some supports like two sections of I beam and light it up. You can use hay or pallets to create the next fire. Our department tried a cargo van but that didn't work as well. We actually piped ours for natural gas with a nozzle under the engine, in the front & rear passenger areas and the trunk. It's controlled by a simple manifold manned by an assistant.

    One of the base section connex's could be your storage area for hay and pallets as well.

    Know this is long but hopefully it give you something to mull over. There are a lot of small details that go into making something like this work. I'm just trying to give you options to consider.

    Let me know if you need clarification or have questions,
    Good luck.
    Walt.
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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    Thought of this while I was on mission. Make sure that once you have the tower you have the SOP/SOG to go with it.
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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    walt, again thank you for the information it has been very useful in the thought process of this training area. any chance i can get blueprints for your training room, car fire plumbing for gas, and roof simulator. you have a very nice training grounds. we are thinking of rocking the entire area, and putting concrete down for anything we have. a 40 by 40 pad for extrication concrete under the tower and burn room and under any mobile props. again thank you for the replies and ideas
    thx mm

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    If you contact our department (kvfd@kvfd.net) with an e-mail I'm pretty sure someone can come up with the plans for the classroom and vent roof along with more pictures. Don't like passing the buck but I'm in Baghdad right now and don't have access to that stuff. Somebody back home will get you squared away, if they don't let me know.

    Thank you for the complement. Unfortunately the picture of the training grounds is dated and we have added streets and made other improvements. Hopefully this next year we can get another flyover. That picture is about 5 years old. We are lucky because it was started in 1994 with nothing other than some old buildings sitting on the site. It has been a constant effort but the determination of our department is paying off. We try to improve it every year.

    I'm sure you noticed but when visiting our website that if you place your cursor over the item you're interested in it will show some pictures to the side. Not everything has pictures but that's where the website is headed.

    The classroom is pretty basic but works well. The back third is divided in two sections, one contains a kitchen with a frig holding pop, snacks, etc. We can make coffee or serve a meal if needed for the class. The other contains the restrooms, mechanic room and cleaning closet. The restrooms can be access from the outside and the kitchen opens to the outside as well.

    The car fire prop is pretty simple. We have two beams that the car sits on and we have a natural gas line that is run to the area. It comes up to a manifold with four 90 degree valves that run to the car, it is department policy that an operator be manning the manifold and master valve if the simulator is being used. They come in behind the car and one stubs up in the trunk, one in the rear floor board, one in the front floor board and one under the engine. The nozzles are home made following plans we saw for the purpose and we light it with a cattle prod that has a jumper wire between the prongs. We add some straw or wood for some smoke once the car itself is burnt up. There is an old slab of concrete that everything sits on and we just placed a layer of rock over it so guys don't trip on the piping.

    Regarding the vent roof we had the local power company place the poles, that I know for sure. There are two panels on the slope and on the flat portion that are 4'x4' and are sacrificial. We go to the local lumber yards and get damaged pieces of plywood to use, usually get a good sized pile for $5 each delivered. They usually cut them to 4'x4' for us. They are attached to a 2x6 that drops into hanger brackets in the hole. Put some rolled asphalt on top of the insert and you have a roof deck. The 2x6's get used repeatedly and the plywood is used for our flash over simulator or other live fire burns. You can make the inserts pretty easy, hardest part is cutting all the rolled roofing. We stockpile them in the garage so when we start training it's cut, replace the insert and cut again. Same thing on the deck.

    It works really well but there are a couple things we would do differently. It is almost to low because the ladders stick way beyond the edge of the roof. The slope is not very aggressive which is good for training new guys but it's to easy to walk on for the experienced guys. If we had to redo it I would lobby to have two different pitches, one like we have and one steeper. This could easily be done on top of a connex to conserve space and increase the realism if you build a tower out of connex's like I explained earlier.

    The inside of the roof has joist run which was intended for SCBA training but we have never really used them. You will have debris fall inside so make sure you have access for clean up. One thing that I want to add but haven't had the time is a prop below the rafters to simulate punching the ceiling. I'm thinking creating a box similar to a skylight going up to the insert. Below the joist having two to four hinged drop doors held up by hefty magnets. That way after making the cut they can stick a pike pole down and punch the ceiling then it can easily be reset. Might include a smoke box that the smoke generator fills with smoke to increase the realism.

    If you, or anyone else, is passing by on I-80 and wants to stop in let us know. We would be happy to show you around. Very little is actually proprietary to us, we have stolen or modified ideas from other departments and are happy to share with anyone else.

    Again, let me know if you need clarification or have questions.
    Walt.
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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    elk1544,

    Just checking in to see if you have been able to make any progress with the planning? I know it's only been three weeks but this type of stuff is my "out" over here and I really enjoy it.

    Did you call the station to see about those plans?

    Thanks,
    Walt.
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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    no im afraid not the congressmas office shot the idea down for funding and so did the board so it is at a stand still for now

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    Sorry to hear that. You could still work up a plan and price it out. Then you would know how much you need and it would help with seeking funds. You have a better chance at getting money when you have a plan and estimated cost.

    Don't give up. Stuff like this takes time.
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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