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Rincon Fire awaits new training facility

POSTED: December 5, 2011 6:12 p.m.

The Rincon Fire Department soon will get a training facility of its own.

Council members awarded a bid of $241,950 to Fire Training Structures to build the training structure, which will be assembled and then moved to the Rincon Fire Department’s Station No. 1, adjacent to the police department. Construction of the multi-story building, composed of container systems, could be finished within eight to 12 weeks.

“I’m hoping we’ll get it set up the first of March,” Rincon Fire Chief Corey Rahn said.

Now with full-time paid staff and nearly 40 volunteers, Rahn is looking forward to training Rincon firefighters literally right out the department’s back door, instead of sending them to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

“We hope to beef up our team with more training,” he said. “Right now, we’re having to go to Forsyth to get certified. We can split the volunteers’ schedule and get a lot more training in without having to go off.”

Firefighters also will be able to conduct training on such exercises as breaching walls and on ventilation for flat and pitched roofs. They can be trained on various search-and-rescue techniques, with a rappelling tower, a bailout window and the ability to “hide” a fire within the walls so firefighters have to use thermal imaging cameras to find it. They also will be able simulate cutting garage doors.

“The various training props that come with this are a key feature,” Rahn said.

Firefighters also will be able to simulate what happens when floors collapse in a fire.

“You have to see that in a controlled environment and you can’t learn how to do it unless you have the equipment to do it right,” Rahn said.

The projected life of the building is about 30 years, Rahn said. The burn cells have a life span of about 10 years, but they can be removed and replaced. Another element Rahn liked about this fire training structure is the use of certified welders in putting it together.

“That’s what put them ahead of a lot of the other ones we looked at,” he said. “Some of them had removable panels. But they were thin and you have to replace them yearly. We don’t have to remove any of the permanent structure. They cut a few welds and slide the burn cell out. Then you rebuild it or replace it and you can slide it back in.”

The days of using abandoned or donated houses to set afire for training exercises are ending, Rahn said, because of the regulations involved and the cost of adhering to those rules. Now, pipes, wiring and shingles, everything that isn’t wood, Rahn said, have to be removed before firefighters can strike a match to the house.

“It used to be we got a lot of training through old, abandoned structures,” he said. “And there’s just not that many around that we can get our hands on. It’s too costly for a homeowner or property owner to donate a building because it costs too much to get it to where we can burn it. With this building, we’ll have the capability to do a one- or two-room fire simultaneously on a regular basis.”

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