The held a "compliance burn" training Thursday morning at its main house, working with a live flame to practice dealing with various kinds of fires.
The Missouri Division of Fire Safety through the fireworks licensing program by the Fire Education Commission funded the training, which included the Affton, Valley Park and Florissant Valley fire protection districts. One firefighter from the Mehlville Fire Protection District was also there updating his credentials.
Firefighters in full protective gear practiced approaching fires as a team, using different patterns of water spray to deal with blazes in a barrel, in a car, on a propane tank, in a wooden crate, and in various parts of a special trailer simulating a house.
All Missouri firefighters must do these training exercises periodically to maintain their credentials. The firefighters were given pass/fail grades by evaluators. Evaluators firefighters from other departments around the region who have been certified to judge this kind of training by the state.
“It’s an awesome thing for the fire service,” Assistant Affton Fire Chief Mark Emert said of the training.
Affton Fire Captain Keith Skaggs said that in the past high intensity training exercises like this one resulted in some serious injuries for firefighters, so departments around the state adopted safer methods to do compliance burns. Thursday's training used propane flames controlled from several yards away by a training officer with a nozzle. This also allows the firefighters to practice different scenarios, such as one in which a burning propane tank would shut off automatically when cooled by water, and another that required a firefighter to reach into the spray-suppressed flame to turn the tank off manually.
The departments also used a fully metal trailer instead of a real house, in which the only combustible material was specially placed bundles of straw and propane jets that could put flames on the ceiling, the wall or under the bed.
The trailer and other equipment for the burn were provided by Local Emergency Training Specialists LLC, (LETS) a vendor of training courses for fire departments. Kraig Bone from LETS was there managing the session.