Facility Shows Neb. Firefighters How Flames Act

OMAHA, Neb. --

Omaha firefighters are training in a new facility that shows them the evolution of a fire from start to finish so they know how to better fight it and get out alive.

"If we get caught in a flashover, it's an almost unsurvivable atmosphere," said Omaha fire Capt. Chris Langlois.

He said flashovers are something he and other firefighters have to worry about facing every day. They're using the training facility to learn how a fire behaves.

The firefighters use a lighter and paper to ignite a fire and then sit back to watch it burn.

"We are arming our firefighters with the knowledge to recognize dangerous conditions like a rollover," said Omaha Battalion Chief Ron Benak.

Less than six minutes after the fire is ignited, the flames climb higher. About 10 minutes into it, the rollover happens. The flames stretch into the rafters and swirl up through the ceiling.

Firefighters said it's something they might not otherwise be able to see through heavy smoke. They might also not feel it during intense 1,500-degree heat.

"It's huge to bring our firefighters out here, to show them the stages, how fast it grows, the chemistry of a fire and a fire's behavior," said Langlois.

Firefighters can also practice any number of rescue scenarios in the new facility. It was made possible thanks to a federal grant and a big private donation.

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