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PCC Fire/EMS Organizes Live Burn Training

By Alex Freedman
PCC Media Relations Specialist

Firefighters from Greenville, Winterville and Kinston participate in a live burn qualification course on Dickinson Avenue in Greenville. The training teaches students the steps for prepping and setting fire to a structure for firefighter training purposes.

GREENVILLE—Firefighters from three area stations participated in a live burn qualification course through Pitt Community College’s Continuing Education Division this month.

Organized by PCC’s Fire and EMS Training program, the live burn took place on Dickinson Avenue Oct. 9 at a structure donated to Red Oak Fire Department in conjunction with the college. The practical scenario taught students studying to be fire instructors the steps needed to safely prep and set fire to a structure for firefighter training purposes.

“Learning the proper method of conducting live fire training burns is a necessity for a fire service instructor,” said PCC Director of Fire and EMS Training Bryant Waters. “Fire chiefs and firefighters alike are expecting a safe and controlled training environment while receiving hands-on, realistic fire training.

“This course taught instructors state and nationally-established standards in accordance with the North Carolina Fire and Rescue Commission and the National Fire Protection Association.”

This month’s training exercise called for students to strategically pile shipping pallets and hay into a room of the structure while a state fire marshal examiner observed their technique. The students, who represented stations in Greenville, Winterville and Kinston, were then asked to correctly douse the hay and other portions of the room with diesel fuel.

Once the fire marshal gave his approval, the students set the pallets and hay ablaze. In order to pass, the fire had to spread from floor to wall to ceiling.

Outside the structure, firefighters from surrounding fire stations quickly put out the flames, after it was apparent each student had passed the qualification with a floor-to-ceiling fire. All of the students who took part in this month’s training passed their qualifications.

“There are multiple training scenarios in which firefighters can train through simulation, but every firefighter needs to experience training that is as realistic as possible,” Waters said. “It is extremely hard to find suitable structures that can be utilized in live fire training, making this type of training hard to come by.”

Waters said it is important to take advantage of every opportunity to train firefighters to protect themselves and the public from fire-related injuries. “Live fire training is the best method for providing as realistic as possible training in accordance with nationally-recognized safety standards,” he said.

After being a fire instructor for at least five years, firefighters are able to enroll in PCC’s Live Fire Instructor Qualification Course and, upon completion, specialize in live fire training. Graduates can then return to their fire stations and officially conduct live fire training under North Carolina law. They are also qualified to teach at other fire stations in the state.

Waters says the course offers local firefighters a way to continue their education and specialize in a specific aspect of fire instruction, which could lead to better jobs in the future.