American LaFrance Trains Industrial Fire Fighters
“THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE for experience!”—and experience is provided in abundance at the American LaFrance Industrial Fire School, held annually from April through October at the company’s experimental station and Proving Grounds in Elmira, N. Y. Fire protection, fire fighting, and fire prevention, each of these problems is considered in detail, on the six acres and more of plant facilities devoted to design, testing, and study of all types of fire fighting equipment.
For many years the company has conducted a fire school for its own personnel in addition to staging demonstrations of various extinguishing methods before interested groups. Currently, industrial firms from many parts of the country are sending their employees to the school for training under the guidance of experts in the science of fire fighting. Many of these men who attend the school have had years of experience dealing with fire hazards and fire control. Included among the more recent attendees at the threeday sessions were industrial fire protection engineers, insurance engineers, municipal fire officers and armed forces personnel.
School instructors, who are company employees, are well-seasoned through comprehensive training before being permitted to conduct classes. Their knowledge and skill as experts are thoroughly tested according to company safety standards. Safety in attitude and technique is continually stressed to provide protection for students engaged in fighting fires during the program. It is further hoped that this concern for safety will be retained by every student as he applies his newly acquired knowledge and skill in everyday practical situations on his ‘‘home grounds.”
Each fire school, limited to 25 persons to insure personal attention, is set up on a three day basis—held Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of a scheduled week. On the first day students are given a guided tour of the plant to observe manufacture and testing of portable fire extinguishers and motor fire apparatus. Following this, company personnel demonstrate on actual fires, various types of portable extinguishers including: pressurized water, carbon dioxide, and dry chemical. The latest type nozzles are used in the demonstrations.
During the second day, students are themselves permitted to handle portable equipment and to extinguish fires similar to those in the demonstrations of the previous day. Students are also given classroom instruction and actively participate in discussions over mock-ups of automatic carbon dioxide and foam systems.
Each student is taught the proper inspection, recharging and maintenance of hand portable, wheeled, and stationary dry chemical extinguishers. Trainees are encouraged to recharge their own equipment to insure thorough understanding of proper procedures.
On the third day of training, students discuss foam liquids and equipment used in its application: they observe demonstration of: 1) An automatic carbon dioxide system extinguishing a fire in a 1600cubic-foot room by total flooding method; 2) automatically-operated foam system extinguishing a fire in a simulated dip tank and drain board risk; 3) a “Blabbermouth” nozzle that produces 4500 gallons of mechanical foam per minute; and 4) a grand finale—extinguishment of a fire in a 491-square-foot oil storage tank (25 feet in diameter) by a fixed mechanical foam system.
The balance of the final day is spent by members of the class in fighting fires peculiar to their own industries. All graduates receive certificates.