GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County Fire Rescue conducted a live fire training exercise at a vacant mobile home off Turner Road on Dec. 6.
Live fire training exercises are scheduled whenever possible to ensure new recruits learn the skills they need for battling structure fires and to enhance the skills of seasoned firefighters and investigators.
Clay County and the property owner signed an agreement allowing access to the structure and property with the understanding that the structure would be burned completely, and the owner would have 30 days to remove the debris from the site. Any acquired structure used for live fire training must meet the NFPA 1403 Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions, to ensure that the exercise is conducted in safe facility and in a safe manner.
All neighbors were notified in advance of the exercise and live fire training signs were posted on the road and near the structure. There were minimal smoke impacts to the surrounding properties.
The exercise was conducted using the Incident Command System with an identified Incident Commander, Ignition Officer and Safety Officer on scene. A medical plan was in place and paramedics were standing by, ready to respond if needed. Five attack hose lines and three supply hose lines were charged and ready; water tenders had a total of 12,000 gallons available at the scene to prevent the fire from spreading.
Firefighters from Stations 20 in Green Cove Springs and 24 in Virginia Village; investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire Arms and Explosives; and the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations participated in this valuable training exercise. Capt. Mike Brockwell explained how the training began before the fire was ignited. Firefighters obscured their vision with plastic wrap and in full turnout gear, entered the structure to quickly and carefully examine every square inch in effort to locate a single die on the floor.
“This exercise simulates searching for a person or animal in a smoke-filled structure,” Brockwell said.
As ignition began, five firefighters remained inside with a charged hose line, observing how the smoke and fire spread through the structure, this is called “reading the fire.”
“Crews need to see how the smoke and fire travel through the structure from the initial ignition phase to full involvement,” Brockwell said. “This will help them predict how fire will behave in a real event. The firefighters also practiced the mental exercise of regulating their breathing, this skill will prevent them from running out of oxygen in a real emergency. The ability to regulate oxygen use needs to be second nature for firefighters to ensure their survival in a burning structure.”
Once ignition was complete, all firefighters exited the structure, conducting only defensive operations on the exterior. Crews continued to observe how the fire consumed the structure. Arson investigators also closely watched the path the fire traveled through the structure. This type of observation could aid them in future investigations. The fire was ignited at 10:05 a.m. and the structure burned completely to the ground by 11:38 a.m. Firefighters put a wet line around the burned mobile home and monitored the smoldering debris throughout the night to ensure the scene was secure.
Clay County Board Chairman Gayward Hendry said: “The safety of our firefighters and the public is of utmost importance to Commissioners. It should be comforting for our community to know that Clay County Firefighters are receiving the best training available to help them protect the public from future fires.”