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Olympia Fire Department Fire & EMS Master Plan

FIRE TRAINING CENTER

FIRE TRAINING CENTER ----------------------- 2 OVERVIEW ------------------------------- 2 TRAINING VERSUS EXPERIENCE ------------ 2 RISK MANAGEMENT --------------------------- 2 PROBLEMS WITH EXISTING LIVE FIRE TRAINING -------------------------- 3 A NEW TRAINING CENTER-------------------- 5

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FIRE TRAINING CENTER Overview Ongoing fire training is essential to the Olympia Fire Department’s successful execution of its mission. It is also mandated by Washington State law. An excerpt from the Master Plan states, “those (Firefighters) who will perform interior structural firefighting must have quarterly training...and shall be commensurate with their duties and responsibilities.” Also, as stated in the Master Plan, there is an increased need for realistic training due to the “Paradox of Firefighter Training.” This says that, as the fire department does a better job of preventing fires, the less proficient firefighters become and the more basic skills must be practiced. Training versus Experience Structure fires have become a High Risk/Low Frequency (HR/LF) event for our Firefighters. While the overall number of fire incidents has increased, the percentage of structure fires has decreased. Our Members occasionally become involved in these low frequency events where if not handled properly, there are major consequences. Take away frequency and you have taken away experience. Take away experience and all you have left to rely on is training. Everyone wins with highly trained, highly qualified professionals responding to and handling fire incidents. There is a need to train in a Live-Fire environment. Risk Management Identifiable risks are manageable risks. Fire training is identifying things that can go wrong, and developing practiced control measures to prevent them from going wrong. We need to train more than ever in a building (training tower) that simulates live fires within the various structure types found within Olympia.

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• Single family homes • Multi-family homes • Commercial structures These various types of structures can be replicated in a training tower building to simulate the types of risks that we encounter in Olympia. The greatest vulnerability in Olympia’s current training facility is that it does not allow for live fire training. Our current training tower is unable to facilitate the live fire training atmosphere and is undersized for the needs of live fire training. Problems with Existing Live Fire Training Olympia’s live fire training opportunities are limited. The Department conducts live fire training in donated structures, through the Academy at Bates Technical College, and, on a limited basis, at the Kent Training Center. The problems with this approach include: 1. Infrequent Structural Live Fire Training — Under the current system, structural live fire training opportunities are infrequent. The need for more frequent live fire training was a recurring theme in the Employee Opinion Survey and in the consultants’ site visits. Some firefighters go more than a year without live fire training. One firefighter reported that he had not participated in live fire training since his academy three years prior to the interview. Live fire training is infrequent for the following reasons: a. Cost. The costs associated with sending companies to another community’s training facility are significant. Overtime must be called in to backfill while on-duty companies are training outside the community or overtime must be paid to off-duty personnel sent to participate in live fire training. Costs associated with utilizing donated structures slated to be razed are also significant. Personnel must be assigned to inspect the structure for suitability, tests must be conducted to ensure that hazardous materials, such as asbestos are not present and an agreement between the City and the property owner must be negotiated prior to the burn. b) Infrequent Acquisition of Donated Structures. While the Department utilizes structures slated to be razed, these donations are relatively rare. This problem is compounded by the need to find structures that are suitable — some structures may not be safe for interior operations or may not have adequate separation from other buildings.

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c) Inability to Ensure Adequate Staffing. For live fire training to be most effective, existing companies should train together. This results in the need for more personnel to be available to backfill the system. If those personnel are not readily available for an extended period of time, companies cannot be taken out of service. 2. Safety Concerns. There are numerous safety concerns associated with any live fire training. However, there are additional safety concerns that must be addressed when utilizing donated structures. These are enumerated in NFPA Standard 1403, Live Fire Training Evolutions, 2002 Edition. 3. Liability Concerns. The use of donated structures for live fire training presents the City with additional exposure to civil action. The increased exposure comes from several sources, including: a) Increased likelihood of civilian injuries. b) Burning the wrong building — it has happened in Washington c) Accidentally burning adjacent structures. 4. Environmental Concerns. Live fire training releases into the environment, water, light and noise pollution. Air and water pollution are of particular concern with utilizing donated structures. Donated structures may contain materials that are hazardous to the environment. These materials may be released into the atmosphere, ground water and surface water. Noise and light pollution have more of an impact when donated structures are used in populated residential areas. 5. Response Time Concerns. When the Department takes a company out of service for live fire training, the other companies must respond to calls normally handled by the company involved in training, unless overtime is called in. This has the effect of increasing response times. In addition to the concerns above, live structural fire training is specifically addressed by Washington State law, which essentially parallels NFPA Standard 1403.

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A New Training Center Olympia Fire Department’s existing training center cannot meet the State of Washington’s training requirements for live fire, nor does it meet the Department’s training needs. Ideally Olympia should develop a new, more efficient training center. The current training facility consists of a four-story training tower, a flat roof vent prop, an angled roof vent prop, and a search room made from steel containers. The facility was built in the 1 on a 40,000 square foot lot. The facility is also used by the Parks Department for storage. Simulated fire and rescue drills can be conducted at the existing facility. However, structural live fire training cannot be conducted. In addition, the facility can be used for driver and apparatus placement training. While the Department utilizes the facility regularly and in creative ways, the existing facility is inadequate. Simply put, the training needs of the Department cannot be met with the existing facility. The Department should construct a new fire training facility that is consistent with NFPA Guide 1402, Building Fire Service Training Centers, 2002 Edition. The facility should, at a minimum, incorporate a training tower, a burn building and classroom(s) and have adequate props to simulate various drills and aspects of rescue. Ideally, space to conduct fire apparatus driver training programs. It should be located as close to the City’s core as possible in order to minimize training time and associated costs. Finally, the new facility should be attentive to neighborhood concerns and address issues of air, noise and light pollution. A new training center should be constructed in an area that is removed from residential occupancies and readily accessible to personnel and apparatus. The new facility should utilize technology which minimizes atmospheric releases of smoke and other toxic substances. The new facility should have adequate classroom, office and storage space. Props to simulate different emergency scenarios, e.g., a building for live fire training, which utilizes clean burning fuels, a tower to simulate multiple story firefighting and rescue scenarios, a hazardous materials pit to simulate spills and hydrocarbon fires, and enough paved area for a driving course. The Department believes approximately five acres of space will be necessary for the new facility. The size of the site is not only important in terms of providing sufficient work and training areas, but also to provide a buffer between the facility and neighboring businesses or residences.

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Specific items for the proposed facility that should be considered include: • Burn Building. The burn building should provide commercial and residential style environments allowing firefighters to conduct fire ground operations, fire attack, ventilation, search and rescue, forcible entry, laddering, overhaul, salvage, and utility control. The burn building should utilize clean burning materials, such as gas fire with smoke simulation. • Tower. The tower would be a four or five-story structure complete with vestibule, simulated smoke system and fixed fire protection systems. The tower should permit the Department to perform high rise operations, use of aerial ladders, rappelling, and fire ground operations in low rise occupancies. If rappelling is practiced, the tower will have a removable net system on the rappelling side to prevent injury or death during rescue training. • Gas Props. Clean burning natural gas or propane can be used to simulate various fire attack scenarios. These props can be used to create water and gas mixtures to simulate flammable liquid fires without creating the air pollution associated with props that burn flammable liquids. Gas props can also be used to simulate automobile fires and propane storage tank fires. • Specialized Service Training Props. If the Department increases its special services in the future, the new facility should allow for the addition of special training props for trench rescue, confined space rescue, and hazardous materials control. • Extrication Pads. Extrication pads are concrete pads large enough to hold a vehicle and extrication equipment. The pad controls and contains any vehicle fluids that may leak from a vehicle during training and have an under lining that acts as a barrier to prevent ground water contamination. • Pump Pit. A pump pit allows the Department to conserve treated water while conducting drafting, and pump testing. The pump pit essentially recycles water and helps prevent contamination from surrounding surface water runoff. • Classroom(s). The new facility should include classroom space for various training and pre-training briefing activities. Support areas associated with the classrooms should include restroom and locker facilities and audiovisual equipment. Driving Course. The new facility should include a diving area constructed out of concrete capable of supporting fire apparatus under driving conditions. The pad can double as a parking area for the facility.