Firefighters' facility offers real scenarios

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Richmond County firefighters used to burn old buildings to train recruits. Now, they just set the same one on fire again and again.

Completed in August, the department's $1.4 million fire training building stands just off Deans Bridge Road. With flaming gas stoves and hidden crawl spaces, it sometimes resembles a funhouse, albeit a dangerous one.

"We now have something we can play with and actually burn," Lt. Marcus Dukes said.

As a fire control instructor, Lt. Dukes crafts the training schedule for the almost 300 firefighters in the department. So far, just one crew has been trained in the building.

"We're trying to get one crew trained so they can teach the rest of the people," Fire Chief Howard Willis said.

In the past, the department would allow firefighters to burn condemned buildings for training. They would also travel to Forsyth, Ga., to practice at a fire training facility.

The Augusta building contains an empty, five-story elevator shaft that lets firefighters practice their repelling skills, and a 3-foot-high crawl space, complete with rafters that trainees must balance on, tests their ability to work as a team in the tight confines of an attic. In one of several rooms designed to mimic a typical home, instructors can quickly create a stove fire, sending flames rolling up the walls in what's called a "flashover."

One room is reserved for small paper and trash fires. The rest of the flames are controlled by using natural gas. With the help of several smoke machines and temperatures that can reach 700 degrees, trainees are able to get an experience that closely matches what they could see on the job.

"Not only does it build confidence and skills, it lets them practice a working team relationship," Chief Willis said. "Everybody has a role to play."

The new facility makes it easier for instructors to create different scenarios and grade the firefighters based on their reactions, something Chief Willis said will hopefully translate into better firefighters.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

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patel99
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patel99 10/22/08 - 05:27 am
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We want to here from the

We want to here from the training Chief. His job is to tell the public how our firemen will be trained.

politicallyNcorrect1
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politicallyNcorrect1 10/22/08 - 06:31 am
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Well Good, we are the second

Well Good, we are the second largest city in Ga. it's about time we narrow the gap a little between Augusta & surrounding city's that have such training facilities.

WELL I'm going to beat Columbia County to the punch?..(WELL IT'S SOUTH AUGUSTA...JUST SET IT ALL ON FIRE..THAT'LL BE GOOD PRATICE)...LOL...LOL

oneconservativetoanother
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oneconservativetoanother 10/22/08 - 08:16 am
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Martinez Fire Dept and

Martinez Fire Dept and volunteers have been to this for years. Check out the new burn building/training center next to the Columbia County Jail on Columbia Road at County Camp Road. These are your tax dollars put to good use.

mel1968
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mel1968 10/22/08 - 10:23 am
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Now if only they would turn

Now if only they would turn the lights out when they are not needed they could start paying some of the $1.4 million dollars back!
And while your at it, why don't you clean the place up! If WE just spent $1.4million dollars on that peice of land, why would you Fire Fighters want it to look noce!?

voluptuously_auburn1
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voluptuously_auburn1 10/22/08 - 01:11 pm
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What a stupid location for

What a stupid location for this to be ... have ya seen it? Situated right there on Deans Bridge Rd, just before/after the on ramop to Bobby Jones. I can foresee all the traffic issues with people rubber neckin to watch these heros train with all the flames and smoke, peoples jumping outta seemingly burning buildings and the like. Stupid location!!!!!

mel1968
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mel1968 10/22/08 - 03:30 pm
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voluptously auburn, why was

voluptously auburn,
why was it a stupid place to put it? Will it be you doing the rubber necking!?
Good spot, they just need to clean it up.. It does belong to the City of Augusta doesn't it.. Oops never mind, I just answered my own question.. It will stay looking like that.
But seriously Augusta, you spent all of our money on this thing, make it look nice why don't yah! Give the prisoners something to do.

firemans mom
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firemans mom 10/22/08 - 03:38 pm
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You know what it doesn't

You know what it doesn't matter what is done you can't make everybody happy. In the long run believe it or not it is going to save the taxpayers money because they don't have send the firefighters to Forsyth to do a lot of their training.

betcha2
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betcha2 10/23/08 - 09:04 am
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Isn't this typical for

Isn't this typical for Richmond County? You have a Training Department in the Fire Department to schedule and conduct training sessions. The Fire Chief allows personel outside of the Training Department to "craft the training schedule for the almost 300 firefighters in the department" for the new burn building! I think this Lt. should stick to the job HE is trained and paid to perform and not take credit where credit isn't due!

mel1968
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mel1968 10/23/08 - 10:18 am
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emilia, I agree with you on

emilia,
I agree with you on that..
But what if other Firefighters come here for training? Have you seen the site? It looks like a DUMP!
I have to pass it EVERYDAY! I live on Glenn Hills Dr. I was hopin that whoever purchased it would clean it up not keep it as they found it..
And betcha2 you made no since..

disssman
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disssman 10/23/08 - 07:44 pm
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We completed this critical

We completed this critical project in August and here it is end of Oct and ONE team has been trained. Dosen't sound so critical to me!! How about we start using it every day for training and recoup the 5,000 dollar per student initial cost! I am surprised they didn't put it downtown as I am sure the real estate cost would have been more. Really, why didn't they put this kind of facility near the county line where it would not have impacted property, or peoples health when they simulate smooky oil fires? The current location could have been sold to a private developer and been returning hefty property taxes to a city strapped for cash.

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