The Enterprise Fire Department will intentionally set fire inside its burn building this weekend as part of what will become a routine training exercise.
The burn building is a modified 40-foot by 8-foot shipping container that allows firefighters to create scenarios that simulate real burning buildings.
“Live fire training is a critical part of the instruction and certification process for firefighters,” Enterprise Fire Department Battalion Chief Bryan Turner said. “It teaches personnel how to safely and effectively fight fires in a controlled setting under supervision.”
Chief Turner will serve as the training officer and lead the test burn, which consists of wood, straw and organic materials being set on fire inside the Class-A burn building. The low cost, low maintenance building was purchased in 2022.
“Fire-related incidents are fortunately not an everyday experience for our citizens and fire personnel. While this is a good thing, it can present a unique challenge for firefighters,” Turner said. “Skills that are not exercised often tend to fade and become less muscle memory reliant. The burn building helps in solving this issue.”
The National Fire Protection Association details the criteria for the training officer to conduct a safe and effective exercise.
“Live fire training can be dangerous and is considered to be the closest thing to unplanned, accidental or intentional fires,” Enterprise Fire Department Chief Christopher Davis said. “Scenarios like these teach our firefighters how to think clearly and act calmly during emergency situations when lives are at stake and every second counts. It’s important for them to trust in their gear and personal protective equipment.”
Davis expects the department to go through several rounds of this particular type of training in the coming months.
“We want to be good neighbors and recognize the smoke could be a nuisance,” Davis said. “We plan to pick days and times that will have minimal impact on those around us, especially because of where we are located. For example, we will not utilize it when school is in session.”
Davis said in order for the training to be most realistic, several factors are considered.
“We need to create a variety of conditions for effective training, so this could be done during the day, at night, holidays, weekends. Different weather patterns will be taken into account. Fire doesn’t care what day it is, if it’s sunny, or if it’s two o’clock in the morning. Regardless, our firefighters will be prepared.”
Davis said it’s important for the community to be aware of the training in case people do see a plume of white smoke near Central Fire Station on Plaza Drive during the exercise.
“The safety of our firefighters and the peace of mind for our community is of upmost importance,” Turner said. “We want to pick good opportunities for training, and we will do what we can to alert the public, so they know what’s going on.”