FOUR-LEVEL TRAINING TOWER

BY JAMES M. HOLBERT

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Our four-level firefighter training tower design is based on a two-story training prop featured in Fire Engineering (Training Notebook, “Saving Our Own: Designing a Firefighter Survival Training Aid,” May 1998, p. 10), which was designed to teach firefighter self-rescue techniques. We saw this training structure as an efficient and economical means of implementing a similar program in our department. In designing a comparable structure for the Sugar Creek (IN) Fire Department, the training division expanded on the original concept to incorporate other key evolutions and added two levels.

As in the original structure, the first level is used for wall-breaching, confined-space rescue, and firefighter self-rescue evolutions, including through-a-door and through-a-window techniques. Using a trapdoor in the floor of the second level over the confined-space section, members practice rescuing a firefighter who has fallen through a floor.

The enclosed second and third levels have openings on three sides for ladder evolutions and high-rise drills. A stairway to the second level enables members to practice moving a firefighter up or down a stairway.

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The fourth level, an open platform with railings on three sides, facilitates rappelling and rope-rescue training.

The tower features pressure-treated lumber construction for durability in severe weather. The department paid for the materials, which cost appoximately $1,500. Firefighters built the facility.

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To date, several local fire departments have trained at the site; two local fire schools have also used the structure. The department is planning to add sprinkler heads and a standpipe to expand the variety of training opportunities.

JAMES M. HOLBERT is chief of the Sugar Creek Fire Department in St. Mary of the Woods, Indiana.

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