Burn Building Reopens For Fire Fighter Training

Access had been limited due to problems with the thermal coating.



Frederick, Md (KM). Renovations work was recently completed on the burn building at the Frederick County Public Safety Training Center, and it’s ready for use in training fire fighters. The three-story structure provides simulated training so that fire fighter recruits can undergo the actual experience of putting out a fire.

During her public information briefing on Thursday, County Executive Jan Gardner said the building itself has been around since 1992, and is structurally sound. But the inside thermal coating was deteriorating, and in 2013, it was put out of service when large pieces of the coating began to fall off. “Unfortunately, for the past several.years,  use of the Frederick County burn building has been restricted, forcing classes to travel to Carroll County or to College Park, which is quite a distance, for live fire training. So this is a situation that’s  time consuming and certainly not optimal,” she said.

After he came on board in 2015, Gardner says Fire and Rescue Services Chief Tom Owens consulted with the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and formed a burn building committee, consisting of 19 career and volunteer fire fighters, and a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to consider options for bringing the building back into operation. Some suggestion included building a metal structure, and even using shipping containers. But Owens got together with Committee Chairman Clarence “Smiley” White and came up with the idea of building a concrete two-story addition to the current structure with the walls lined with heat-refracting tiles, and replacing the thermal coating in the current building with those refracting tiles.

“I’m extremely pleased to report that the project was completed ahead of scheduled and under budget,” says Gardner. She says the project was funded with $650,000 from another project which had been canceled.

“Member of Recruit Class 23, who are nearing the end of their 27-week academy,  held their first live burn training this week,” says Gardner. “And a fire fighter one class of volunteers will go through live burn training in the burn building the first week of April.”

Chief Owens says live burn training is an important part of a fire fighter’s training. :”Fire fighting and emergency medical services is a full contact business. Classroom instruction can only teach the theories of fire fighting. But to truly understand how conditions of high heat, heavy smoke and rapidly advancing fire behave inside of a building, you have to train under live fire conditions. And that is what our live fire burn building allows us to do,” he said.

In addition, Owens says the additions to the burn building can simulate fires in different types of structures. :”One side resembles a single family home. One is a commercial warehouse with a loading dock. Another side resembles an garden-style apartment building. And the other resembles an office warehouse with roll up doors,” he says.

The building also has other features, such as grappling hooks on the roof, and a door on the roof  which allows students to see how venting a roof can affect a fire, without actually cutting holes in the roof.


By Kevin McManus