CLARKSVILLE — A steel fire training tower has been built here and the burn props for it are getting made as first-responders in the region look forward to having a nearby facility to boost their abilities and safety.
At 40 feet tall, the building is high enough for ladder training and for firefighters to rappel down exterior walls. In fact, participants can practice rappelling from a third-story window to a second-story window, notes Clinton-Warren Joint Fire District & EMS Chief Bob Wysong.
In addition to rappelling, the tower is designed for live burn training, confined space rescue, roof penetration and other simulations of real-life emergencies. There’s an attic with a low ceiling, a small room like a bedroom, and a way to simulate going down into a basement fire.
Inside, five-foot walls can be installed to form a maze for firefighters to find their way through.
“You’re trying to teach them to be able to get through any obstacles they come across in their job,” said Wysong.
“We’re excited. Obviously for us it’s a diamond — it’s at our back door,” he said this week. The tower is at the same site as the Clinton-Warren Joint Fire District & EMS firehouse on Springhill Road, where there are a big parking lot and a total of about 5½ acres.
Already there are inquiries from other emergency departments in Clinton, Fayette and Brown Counties wanting to use the facility when it opens this spring.
The designer and builder, Fire Facilities out of Wisconsin, recommends a maximum fire heat within the range of 900 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wysong said when room temperatures reach the level where the firefighters’ protective gear and equipment starts melting, the people being trained tend to “go into survival mode rather than learning mode.”
The point is to train, not to hurt with blistering heat, he said.
Besides live-burn firefighting training, the facility can serve as a place for other hands-on instruction.
“We plan to do a lot of EMS training, where the patient is in an upstairs room of the house and you have to come down steps,” said the chief.
Ohio’s 2017-18 Capital Improvements Budget Bill designated $850,000 for a fire training center in Clarksville.
Also new at the Springhill Road site is a 40 foot by 60 foot concrete pad for emergency personnel to practice doing extrications, which involve cutting up vehicles to get to trapped motorists.
There’s also at least part of a “dry hydrant [system] to practice drafting with a static source of water,” as is often needed in rural fires.
R+L Carriers donated a trailer, and then fire district staff built a May Day simulator inside, like a maze, to teach firefighters what they need to do to save themselves if they get stuck or trapped, Wysong said.
The Blanchester Marion Township Fire District donated a fire truck and equipment for training operations, and there is interest on the part of others to do likewise.
Great Oaks has shown an interest in using the burn tower for their classes, the chief said.
An open house for the public will be held when the weather breaks, probably either March or April.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.
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