The Nassau County Fire Service Academy has begun a major program of upgrading its existing facilities and curriculum—with a view to the needs of the next 20 years.

The Nassau County, N.Y., Fire Service Academy provides training to the 10,000 volunteer fire fighters from 71 departments of Nassau County, Long Island. They protect a population of 1.5 million people, and they are entitled to receive the best training possible.

Operated by the Nassau County Vocational Education and Extension Board, the academy has a physical plant consisting of three burn buildings, a 2 1/2 story dwelling, a commercial “taxpayer,” and a six-story tower. Fires in these structures use wood pallets accelerated by pans of fuel oil. The results are very hot, stubborn fires which are often more difficult to extinguish than the “real thing.” Other fire scenarios include open fuel pits; pressurized gasoline pumped to leaking pipe fittings, an overturned tanker and leaking drums; and propane (vapor and liquid) piped to cylinders, a barbecue and an actual delivery truck.

In addition there is a tower dedicated to ladder and rope work, a vehicle extrication area and an indoor pumper test pit (used year round) as well as various other mock-ups and training areas for hands-on instruction.

During the winter months instructors provide in-service training at the local firehouses. Programs range from basic training to advanced and specialized courses in such areas as officer development, arson recognition and EMS.

While the academy’s curriculum is still considered valid and timely, the administration has embarked on an evaluation of the entire program with a view towards fire service needs for the next 20 years. A large part of this undertaking is an upgrading of the existing physical plant, with development of an additional 8 acres of unused land.

The task of designing and developing concepts for fire training buildings for a major fire service academy is unique and draws upon the vast practical experiences of the fire fighter activities in the field, the academic area of effective teaching and the ability to predict the future teaching needs required by the fire service.

To arrive at the different building forms and types, the following research was done to properly arrive at the architectural solutions which would satisfy the needs of the academy:

  1. Survey the academic facility at the academy for its physical needs in teaching fire fighting operations.
  2. Survey the fire incidence records for Nassau County to ascertain the types of buildings and fire situations which show up as high incidence activity.
  3. Studies on the growth of different building types as part of the investigation done by the Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Association, based on zoning concepts planned to attract different and new building types to the area.

These studies and extensive interviews were coordinated with the able assistance of Chiefs John Wolffe and John Baroni at the Academy. The architectural concepts were developed in collaboration with Francis W. Gencorelli and Assoc., architects of Mineola, Long Island, New York.

Through this process the academy is being expanded into a larger, more sophisticated training facility.

As plans are developed for the physical facility, the course curriculum is being enhanced with emphasis on such subjects as hazardous materials, incident command, administration and air-crash rescue. A new library/resource center has been constructed, a former warehouse is being converted to classrooms complete with chemical/haz-mat lab, and record-keeping has been computerized.

The following is a list of buildings that are being planned, indicating the justification process and the fire fighting activity for the specific building.

The key to designing a fire station facility is to design a series of fire buildings that can be used as a “stage set” for different fire fighting situations.

Commercial/industrial building complex

Justification for and description of this complex:

Increased building activity in commercial/ industrial complexes throughout the Long Island area.

To promote the development of greater fire fighting skills for these building types.

A railroad track and loading dock shall be part of this function.

Exterior fire involving a box car at the building platform.

Industrial building with a long axis interior to practice the long horizontal hose stretch.

Heavy-duty forcible entry conditions. Study of exterior fires in a platform to ensure that the fire does not enter the building.

Loading dock fire involving a large garage container

The interior of the building is to be made totally flexible through the use of removable structural jacks and steel plates to simulate room divisions.

Multiple type store fronts.

Two-zoned sprinkler system.

Simulation of long access corridor for merchandise warehouse.

Cockloft arrangement to illustrate horizontal fire movement, for visual observation and actual fire flow.

Ventilation training items for roof ventilation practices.

Simulation of a roof burn-through for purposes of fighting the fire with a tower ladder.

Installation of marinite or gunite for high heat use.

Size of building – 8700 gross square feet.

Addition to the existing tower building

Justification and description of this building type:

It was found that the existing training tower lacked the horizontal movement possibilities needed in training the fire fighter. Therefore, a long horizontal addition is being planned to provide better training in vertical hose stretch and a long horizontal hose stretch through a complex interior constructed with movable structural steel jacks and steel plates to act as room dividers to simulate a highrise situation.

Construction of a protected corridor to simulate a fire search along a corridor with multiple doors and spaces at 90 degrees to the personnel flow.

Installation of a complete standpipe system for training purposes.

Construction of a second stairway to simulate a multiple hose line attack from two vertical egress stairs.

Construction of a new fire escape for training purposes.

Ventilation training items for roof ventilation practices.

Size of building – 8500 gross square feet.

Residential dwelling Garden apartment-type building

Justification and description for this building


Increased building activity in the garden apartment-type building through the increase in the Long Island area for cluster housing, townhouses and garden apartment housing and a more complicated plan type in residential housing.

Creation of a training facility for the type of dwelling unit which simulate small-scale and narrow environment for movement through the fire scene.

Center hall entry onto winding stair to circulate through the fire building.

Fake mansard roof front attached to the building parapet with unanticipated steep drop behind the parapet portion.

Attic fire condition with the full downstair or winding stair to the attic.

Creation of different roof types.

Provide removable skylights, a trench cut, sprinkler head in the egress stair, exterior balcony arrangement, roof access through closed scuttle hatch to simulate items to be encountered during fire fighting operations.

Provide movable structural steel jacks and steel plates to act as variable room dividers.

Size of building-9400 gross square feet.

Fire training operations center

justification and description:

The present site plan does not give the academy a focal point for its activities which should be near the main entrance to the academy site. An administration/operation building located at this focal point will centralize the administration and teaching function in one area where the vehicle and people movement can be under full security control.

Full medical facility for emergency use, With ambulance garage area.

Operations control tower for observation of all activities on the site with provisions for emergency cut-off of any activity on the fireground.

Dispatching area fully surrounded with glass windows to handle all incoming apparatus for assignment to training area. Size of building 12,840 gross square feet.

While planning for the future the Nassau County Fire Service Academy must continue to provide training for today's 10,000 volunteer fire fighters.

Photos by Kathy Kmonicek

Addition to the existing maintenance building


Due to the increase in size of all facilities, a proportionate arpount of additional storage is needed to support the needs of the training program.

Size of addition to this building – 4000 gross square feet.

Rescue training facility

Justification and description:

This building is to provide increased facilities for vehicle extrication training, and a training tower for use of ground ladder operations and rope exercises with safety net.

Indoor and outdoor training areas of vehicle extrication.

Self-contained breathing air compressor system and cylinder cascade charging area.

Storage for all fire fighting apparatus used for training purposes. This storage to be inside to ensure immediate use of the vehicles and to prevent apparatus deterioration from exposure to the weather.

Size of building 10,800 gross square feet.

Mask maze building

This building is to be dedicated to selfcontained breathing air mask training.

The interior of this building is to be totally flexible for varied fire fighting situations. Provide for movable structural steel jacks and steel plates to act as room dividers.

The plan of this building is to provide multiple levels in order to give air mask training in a combination of vertical and horizontal movement.

Size of building – 3000 gross square feet.

Other functional areas with state-of-the-art equipment for training and safety:

Propane training area with elevated observation tower for emergency shut-off mable liquid fuels.

Tunnel and manhole rescue operations areas with grade level training built into an earth berm.

Cave-in rescue operation planned around an earth berm and steel sheet piling.

Forcible entry display and activity area, nondestructive type for demonstration purposes.

Open fire pit areas. Oil or airplane crash scene area.

Pumper test pit facility.

Flammable liquids, overturned tankers, bulk storage area fires.

Arson mock-up area.

Utilities familiarization area.

Construction types mock-up area.

Basement mock-up building.

Hazardous materials, spill control area.

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