For the past year or so, our department has been building a training facility of our own. We officially dedicated it on the 29th and christened some of the props with a little demonstration burn to wow the VIPs who came out to celebrate with us. It's a nice facility and was designed with more than just training in mind, given our organization's desire to find multiple uses for things. The site was designed to also be an effective staging location for after hurricanes, or to be used as a distribution center in the event of the same, and can support our semi-annual HAZMAT roundup. But to me, one of the best things is no more begging.
For years, we have had to improvise when it came to training. It's difficult to motivate someone into working at "drill speed" when they are flowing a handline into the woods and pretending it's a burning building. While we have gotten good at being creative, I sometimes felt like my kids, pretending to be a firefighter while spraying a garden hose at an azalea.
To me, there aren't too many more exciting sounds then the "whoosh" made by LDH coming out of the bed and punctuated with the ding of a coupling hitting the pavement every 100 feet. Or the sounds of hose being coupled and the background noise of a roaring fire. And even though we will be using predominantly theatrical smoke in the tower, there's really no substitute for dragging a charged line through zero-visibility and not having to worry about marking up the walls or carpet of the hotel or timeshare willing to permit us a little realism that day.
Every time one of our more motivated instructors wanted to insert some live action into their training, for the most part, it required an act of Congress. Not to mention that although you can't get much better than live fire training in an acquired structure for some good scenarios, between the asbestos mitigation and all the other associated permitting, by the time it was done, one or two days of burning and then cleaning up afterward just doesn't hold the magic of being able to light off in the burn room and being able to mop up by flowing your streams into the sloped-floor drain designed for just that task.
If you come down our way, come by and see it. We have a lot to be proud of. And we certainly appreciate the support of the community in helping us get there. In the end, they are the ones who will benefit the most, though, because as a result of our new acquisition, the training calendar is already filling up with companies who want to practice in a real facility, and not by having to imagine the environment they might be working in.