Beaumont Stresses Training
The Beaumont, Tex., Fire Department has a 28-acre training ground that is the site of an annual firemen’s training school sponsored by Lamar University in Beaumont and the Sabine-Neches Chiefs Association.
The fire department was instrumental in starting the school three years ago. Since then, the attendance has doubled, with students from municipal, volunteer, industrial and government fire departments, as well as from law enforcement and safety organizations in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.
Discussions and drills
The students divide their time between conference discussions at Lamar University and training at the Beaumont drill ground. Conference discussions deal with fire safety, personal protective clothing, marine fire protection, ethylene emergencies, arson, media relations, portable detection instruments and bomb recognition.
Field training classes provide actual fire fighting experience and training in the proper use of clothing and protective equipment. Classes at the training ground include loading-terminal fires, nozzles and special appliances, LP-gas fires, breathing apparatus, petroleum fires, auto fires, sprinkler systems, industrial pipe racks, structural fires, and heavy-duty rescue operations.
The Beaumont Fire Department supplied 10 state-certified instructors to join the 50 other fire and safety instructors from Houston, LaPorte, Baytown, College Station and Shreveport who conducted classes for the more than 125 students in this past year’s school. Assistant Chief Chester Shelton of Beaumont was in charge of the drill ground training, and his department supplied most of the equipment.
Beaumont, a city of 116,000, has a special reason to be concerned about fire fighting. About midway between Houston and Lake Charles, La., it is a center of chemical and oil-related industries, tank farms, and shipbuilding and loading activities on the Neches River.
To meet this challenge, the Beaumont Fire Department, under the direction of Chief C.A. Chriswell, has more than doubled in 12 years to become a 214-man department with 11 stations, 12 pumpers, two elevating platforms, two ladder trucks, two grass fire trucks, one high expansion foam generator truck, and two trucks for searchlight and rescue operations.
The department has more than 70 compressed air and six self-generating oxygen self-contained breathing apparatus and eight resuscitators, all manufactured by Mine Safety Appliances Company.
A special air purifying unit at the department’s headquarters is used in refilling breathing apparatus cylinders. Resuscitators are carried in chiefs’ cars, ladder trucks and rescue vehicles.
The department’s rescue equipment includes power saws, hydraulic jacks, portable power equipment, cutting torches, thermal burning bars, explosive forcible entry units, and detector and analyzing instruments for gas leaks.
A new rescue truck being built by department mechanics will be equipped for just about any rescue problem and will also be a mobile field communications unit with six operating channels. The department’s communications center is on the second floor of fire headquarters.