National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Live Burn Training

Conducting a live fire burn provides firefighters with a level of realism that is unsurpassed. Such training exercises are much sought after and provide valuable experience. Today’s live burn requires an extensive investment of time and preparation because at the end of the day, as we have been tragically reminded, we are still dealing with an element that still refuses to be fully harnessed–fire. The acquired structure burn, following NFPA 1403 Live Fire Training Evolutions, lays out a comprehensive plan for conducting an exercise in the safest manner possible. The value in following the standard is never more evident than when safety precautions need to be put in practice. “Checking the boxes” with diligence pays off every time.

Brackets [ ] denote reviewer de-identification.

“On Sunday [date deleted], the Training Division of the [name deleted] Department of Fire-Rescue Services held a live fire training exercise. Firefighters were just finishing up our fourth burn, and were looking at the previous fire re-progression, when the floor collapsed as they were standing in the room. Five firefighters fell into a four foot crawl space, suffering minor injuries. Our RIT team that was in place as per NFPA 1403 initiated rescues and assisted all five firefighters in self-extrication…”

A second element that provides a degree of unpredictability is the stability of the structure being burned. As this week’s report suggests, fire-related maydays are not the only consideration to prepare for. A rapid intervention team properly trained, staffed and positioned pays huge dividends when their activation is needed. When everything is in place, “unexpected” events are handled swiftly because the “unexpected” event is actually anticipated. Once you have read the entire account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:

  1. How in depth of a structural stability assessment does your department conduct when the pre-burn inspection is conducted?
  2. Does your department have a relationship with the local building department that allows you to use a building inspector for the structural assessment?
  3. What are some of the components you should be looking at when conducting a structural stability inspection.
  4. Would you consider it safe to burn in a structure that was structurally sound in one portion of the structure, but not in another?
  5. What criteria does your department have for staffing a rapid intervention team?

To view NFPA 1403, click here.

Submit training near miss to today so everyone goes home tomorrow.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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