Oregon Firefighters Take Part in Burn-to-Learn Exercise

Oregon Firefighters Took Part in Burn-to-Learn Exercise held at Sisters Middle School. The first day of training the consisted of extensive RIT in the basement of the gym, ventilation techniques on this middle section of the school (trench cuts & vertical ventilation practices) and live interior fire attack on the "newer" section of middle school.

On the second day of instruction at Sisters Middle School, fire cadets & students, volunteers, & paid staff manned hoses to get experience with fire streams & flows. They also practiced exterior attack methods, learned about building construction differences, fire behavior, and heat potentials.

This was also an opportunity for fire officers to get experience in instruction, operations, safety, water supply, medical, rehab, RIT, logistics, public relations and administration.

The Sisters Middle School constructed in the 1980's consisting of light weight trusses with a common attic throughout the building. Due to safety concerns, no interior attacks were done in this section. Temperatures were measured in excess of several thousands of degrees (some stated 10,000 +). Exterior structure protection hose fire streams consisted of 1 3/4 & 2 1/2 inches with snorkels & monitors as back up to "kill" the fire or protect a gym & former administration buildings 20' & 30' away.

Water immediately went to steam never reaching the seed or main fire due to the intense heat. Moisture was sucked from the ground it was so intense. Smoke could be seen more than 40 miles away! Spectators were kept at a safety zone at least 250 feet away, they moved back to over 400 feet away due to the heat. It gave numerous spectators & the press a new appreciation & knowledge of what we endure.

Participating departments (over 180 participants) consisted of Black Butte Ranch Fire, Bend Fire & Rescue, Redmond Fire & Rescue, Crooked River Ranch Rural Fire Protection District, Jefferson County Fire & Rescue, Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District, La Pine Rural Fire Protection District, Sunriver Fire & Rescue, 9-1-1 central Oregon Dispatch Center, DPSST Supervision/Safety Officer, Sisters School District, Sisters Public Works Department & Administration, and Red Cross Incident Response Unit. The host company was Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District.

The gym section (less than 20' away - trench cut 20' wide) had the protective barrier applied to the exterior wall which withstood the intense heat with no water applied during the exercise due to it would be washed off & the building would probably become involved.

Assigned fire watch students measured the heat with the Scott thermal imager four hours after the extinguishment/burn down of the middle portion on the gym sheet rock at 135 degrees. No extension of fire or burnt stick frame members were located in the gym wall adjacent to the main fire.

A double sheet rock wall between the second day burn & first day burn remained intact even after the intense heat between both sections. The sheet rock had to be removed to allow the wooden members to burn & that section of the wall to collapse for safety.