7-5 Live fire training considerations for acquired structures
An acquired structure is a building or structure acquired for use by the fire department for the purpose of conducting live fire training evolutions.
Live fire training provides important practical learning for firefighters.
Live fire is any unconfined open flame or device that can propagate fire to a structure or other combustible materials.
From a safety perspective, a live fire training evolution should be treated as if it is a real fire emergency.
Acquired structures have previously been used for other purposes, such as farm buildings, homes or industrial buildings. The structures were not originally designed for firefighter training purposes and may present a variety of hazards.
If pre-planning and safe operations are not followed, this type of training has great potential for injuries or deaths to firefighters.
Actions for employers
- identify and eliminate or mitigate any hazards in the acquired structure before it is used for live fire training purposes
- develop training in consultation with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative
Before training begins
Consider the following before the training begins:
- where a firefighter will be working in or on the building, have a building inspector or engineer confirm that the building is structurally sound for the purpose of live fire training
- remove hazardous materials such as asbestos and other designated substances
- remove heavy objects on upper floors, roofs or chimneys, to prevent them from falling onto firefighters below
- repair hazardous conditions, such as covering holes in floors or making stairs safe
- disconnect utilities as they pose a life safety risk
- conduct a pre-burn briefing including a building walk-through with specific assignments given to all participants and instructors outlining the training exercise expectations
- establish an incident command system
- ensure that one or more competent instructors and a designated incident safety officer are present during the evolution
- the incident safety officer should continually monitor the safety conditions and has the authority to stop the exercise at any time
- have on site the minimum number of participants and instructors to meet all tasks at hand, including rapid intervention teams
- make sure participants have the appropriate equipment, knowledge and practical training prior to participating in the evolution – such as safety, fire behaviour, portable extinguishers, personal protective equipment, ladders, fire hose, appliances and streams, overhaul, water supply, ventilation and forcible entry
- put into place a universal warning that safety is compromised and the evacuation of all personnel is required – for example, three blasts of an air horn
- appropriate personal protective equipment, including an activated personal alert safety system, should be worn
- remove unnecessary combustibles
- use fuels that have known burning characteristics, such as wood and paper
- use only the amount of fuel necessary to create the desired fire size
- do not use flammable or combustible liquids, furnishings with foam padding, or foam insulation, as they create dangerous amounts of heat and smoke
- never allow participants to act as “victims” for search and rescue – only use rescue mannequins or figures, which are not to be dressed in bunker gear, so they are not mistaken for participants
- identify access and egress points that are free of debris and obstructions, to all participants
- ensure that a water supply is on site - a minimum of 50 percent more than calculated should be available to handle exposure protection or unforeseen situations
- consider that hose line sizes, types of nozzles, and fire streams that are to be used will all impact water requirements
- use separate fire apparatus to supply attack lines and backup lines to ensure a reliable water supply
- consider fire spread, duration of burn, and void spaces during the planning process - these can lead to premature weakening of the structure and can cut off exit routes
Applicable regulations and acts
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
- clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
- clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers
For information about conducting live fire training evolutions, read NFPA 1403 Standard on live rire training evolutions, 2012 edition.
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