What value do they bring?

The number of structure fires that each individual firefighter is able to experience continues to decrease. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 573,500 fires in 1995, 511,000 in 2005, and 475,500 in 2016. Couple that with the fact most organizations do not participate in acquired structure burns anymore (see “The Acquired Structure Training Effect,” FireRescue, June 2017), and you have a real dilemma trying to create realistic experience.

There are only a couple types of burn buildings being used today, and each jurisdiction makes selections based on a host of variables—one of the most notable being cost. I want to encourage the decision makers to put mission as the number one factor when determining what type of burn building to invest in. In other words, what is it that you are trying to accomplish with the burn building? In previous decades that mission may have been different than what it is or what it needs to be now. With a higher number of actual structure fire responses and the use of acquired structure live burns, many burn buildings were built only to provide a place that reduced the logistical requirements of having to rely on acquired structures, provide a multiuse building that was in the control of the department to be used any time needed, and serve as a place to practice the tactics involved in firefighting.


Has your training outpaced your burn building?

How often does your department do live fire training?

Do you believe that the 'routine' of a burn building negatively affects training?

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generally our teams set up different scenarios in the building (obstacles, visibility, rescue)

without the changes routine practice in an unchanging environment will lead to complacency and boredom,

this is detrimental as the responders will not be as alert as they need to be.

our guys are drilled often in readiness, hydrant location, time trials and whenever possible the burn building!

the tri county fire school instructors participate with classes to update training and certifications needed.

we are an all volunteer department!

The problem we are facing is not necessarily the capacity or capability of the building, it is how to operate realistic drills safely and efficiently to NFPA 1403 Standard.  

I think that the best job is to be a firefighter. A lot of experience you gain and also it's very well paid. There's no way to have a family and be an influential member of society if I don't go into fire service. Being a part of it as an outsider is great because you see how things work at a broader level and see how other people live their lives. You can acquire a lot of valuable skills while being an active member of society. I've understood all this after visiting online firefighter preparation courses. They are very informative and helpful!

Each building is often much different in design as compared to an apartment complex.
Usually property owners see the burn training as an economical way to dispose of a blighted building. ( much less debris to haul away)
Abandoned buildings serve dual purpose by being used for search and rescue training, practical demonstrations of fire knockdown and extinguishing, smoke training, and minimization of collateral damages.
So we take full advantage of availability to not only train our members but invite surrounding departments to participate.
We are volunteers but because of our training our people are capable of quick response and quick decision based on their abilities to assess a situation.

Controlled building burns also allow public observation ( outside of the perimeters) and often generates interest in joining the departments.

I will say however if a burn event is to be scheduled it should be advertised to allow proper detour of traffic.

A firefighter's ability to train and exercise in an acquired facility is a fantastic opportunity. Many agencies have "shied" away from this sort of training owing to environmental and safety concerns. These acquired structure burns won't come together quickly, but with little forethought and elbow grease, they're well worth the effort. I agree that the flashover trainer is an excellent fire behavior learning tool.

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