Using Condemned Buildings For SCBA Training
The implementation of training burns in condemned structures for breathing apparatus training is an extremely dangerous procedure. However, in many instances, this is the only method that is available for this type of training. In this situation, strict adherence to a set of rigid safety precautions is absolutely necessary. As a minimum, the items listed below should be required.
- The structure to be used must be inspected and evaluated thoroughly. If conditions exist such as structural instability, low-density combustible interior finish, holes in floors or missing stairways, the building should not be used for interior fire fighting training.
- A reliable water supply must be established for adequate extinguishment of a fire that totally involves the structure to be used. Recommended sources include use of a pumper or pumpers from a hydrant or from draft. If tankers are to be used, it is imperative that they be filled to capacity along with any portable storage tanks that may be used.
- Charged lines with experienced operators should be placed in key positions to cover the escape routes of personnel who may be working inside the structure. The size of the building will dictate the size of the lines to be used. However, except in the very smallest of structures, 200 gpm should be recognized as the minimum flow for each of these lines.
- A senior officer or instructor must be assigned as the safety officer and placed in a position where he can supervise the entire operation. Should this person give an order to abort or modify the exercise, it should be obeyed immediately and without question. Other instructors may see problems from their vantage points that may not be visible to the safety officer. They should also have the authority to order the personnel out of the structure when necessary.
- The use of booster lines must be prohibited in structural fire fighting. If these lines are used in controlled training situations they may condition new personnel to select the wrong line in an actual emergency. Note: The burning of condemned structures for training purposes may become uncontrolled in a matter of seconds in spite of the precautions that may have been taken In this situation, a booster line would be useless in providing protection for the retreating personnel.
- Gasoline and other flammable liquids must not be used in igniting the fire. Small amounts of kerosine, diesel fuel or other combustible fluids may be used only when the area has not been preheated and it is adequately ventilated.
- Foam rubber, plastics, tires or other high-heat-producing fuels should not be used to produce smoke. The use of these materials will enhance the possibility of a flashover.