BFD Training 2/5/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Batesville Fire Department Training Officer Cowles Horton said that shipping containers have been joined and converted into spaces that simulate the interiors of homes and other structures fire fighters often face. Smoke generators will add realism to the training when the project is complete. The Panolian photo by John Howell Sr.

After welding help, BFD ready for new fire training

By John Howell Sr.

The large green shipping containers curiously assembled at the corner of Panola Avenue and Bright Street are slowly being remade into a multiple use training facility for fire fighters, Batesville Fire Department (BFD) training officer Cowles Horton said.

Three shipping containers placed side-by-side comprise the ground level of the structure. Two more atop those give the training facility a second floor. Another shipping container has been placed on its end to provide a 40-foot tower for training exercises that require vertical mobility.

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The project began last summer when Batesville’s mayor and aldermen approved the fire department’s request to use $50,000 bequeathed by the late Elizabeth Florence to BFD for fire fighters’ use. Florence left the money as a memorial to her brother, Dave Broome, who served as a volunteer fireman and chief of the department.

Fire fighters have been joined by welders Todd Pittman and Keith Hubbard from the city’s gas department to turn the used shipping container into realistic settings similar to the interiors of structures that fire fighters encounter, Horton said.

“We tell them (Pittman and Hubbard) the concept, and they turn it into what we want,” Horton said.

Also providing assistance have been Wastewater Treatment Plant superintendent David Karr and employees of his department.

The welders and other workers have removed the containers’ original walls to create room-size interiors similar to living rooms, bed rooms and kitchens in homes the fire fighters enter to fight fire.

One room will contain a simulated stove that will allow fire fighters to train for the most common fire call BPD responds to, Horton said. It will provide simulation for one and two story structure fires and a basement fire, the BFD training officer said.

The second story includes a long, interior hallway similar to those found in motels. The upright container will give firefighters experience in dealing with vertical structures like grain storage bins or multi-story hotels, he said.

Smoke generators will be used to darken the interiors to train fire fighters in search and rescue and safety techniques, Horton said.

Once complete, the structure will be painted gray, similar to the color of the nearby wastewater treatment plant, he said.