|The new fire tower that was constructed this fall near the Carbon County Fairgrounds will be an excellent training facility for the regions fire fighters and emergency personnel. It is one of the few metal towers in the area, with many of the others being concrete. Area fire departments will begin using it in the new year.|
In an effort to assist local fire agencies as well as lower insurance costs, Carbon County officials along with county commissioners explored ways to make the local area a safer place to live.
The team came up with the plan to build a tower which will allow fire fighters from Carbon and Emery counties to train as well as gain valuable hands-on experience.
The project has been several years in the making, but once grant money was established, the tower was built quite quickly.
"Since the money became available, it was just a matter of months for the tower to be built and ready to operate. Now all that we are waiting on is training, which will teach us how to use the tower successfully without damaging the structure," explained Price Fire Chief Kent Boyack.
The tower is five stories tall and enables fire fighters to create realistic training scenarios including smoke and flames.
On the main floor, a burn room has been constructed which will allow the fire fighters to create an actual fire up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit without damaging the structure.
Inside the burn room are large square panels which protect the actual building structure from fire damage. Also included are several temperature gauges which keep close track of the extent of heat which is produced at any given time in the room.
"These temperature gauges help us to keep an eye on how hot things get inside the room. If we start to exceed the maximum temperature, we know to extinguish the flames before damage is done to the panels inside the room," explained Boyack.
Because the panels cost a significant amount of money to replace, local fire departments have agreed to refrain from using either of the two burn rooms in the tower until they have received training on how to control burns without damaging the material.
"I've heard of fire departments that jumped right in and used their burn rooms without knowing what they were doing. The first time out they wound up with damaged panels and had to start from scratch. This is what we want to avoid. If we can learn how to operate the equipment correctly, we can continue to use the facility for several years without having to worry about replacing panels," stated Boyack.
The burn room will allow fire crews to create virtually any type of situation they desire. The large room has several entrances including the obvious, a door and several windows which will allow fire fighters to enter through many different directions.
The fires which the crews will build inside the room will be created in various ways. Boyack along with Wellington Fire Chief Scott Rowley explained that the agencies will likely find material such as stoves and furnaces at the dump. They will bring the objects to the tower where they can ignite a fire and create a real life situation for the crews to battle.
Aside from the large burn room, the local fire tower also hosts a smaller room which will only allow crews to burn objects at a maximum of 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
The room will operate the same as the larger room however, the location of the small burn area is located on the second floor of the building.
The smaller room is situated to simulate basement fire conditions. Combined with the larger burn room, the facility will offer local fire fighters the chance to train under most conditions which are present in the Carbon County area.
Aside from flames, the tower is also capable of producing real smoke which is non-toxic and no fire is needed to produce such a scenario.
Smoke can be sent throughout the structure to allow fire crews to participate in real life rescues. Because the smoke is non-toxic, humans can be placed in the room and fire fighters can find their way to the patient for a rescue exercise.
An upper level room in the tower simulates an attic. Fire crews can use tools like axes to ventilate the room, chop holes in what would be the floor of the attic and lower themselves to the surface of the simulated structure fire. This will give crews the opportunity to work hand-on with equipment actually used at a real fire scene.
The attic room is accessible from the roof of the fire tower, where crews can enter the structure using fire fighting gear.
The tower is equipped with a small balcony and a larger deck located at the top of the large structure. According to Rowley, this allows crews to rappel down the side of the building as well as lower an actual patient to the ground from up above the structures base.
Large metal stairs give crews access to each level of the building. These stairs also play a crucial role in the training. They will allow crews to work with various access conditions to virtually any sort of building structure in existence in Carbon County.
Although the primary goal of fire officials and county commissioners was to create a practice facility for local rescue crews, the structure also allows Carbon County residents an escape from high insurance costs.
"After finding out that local residents pay a higher premium for house insurance because fire crews have no facility to practice in, we decided that this fire tower would serve a dual purpose. If we can pass on a savings to the citizens, as well as provide better service, I think that this project is well worth the cost," explained the Price fire chief.
The amount for the structure came to nearly $300,000, but it did not cost the county any out of pocket expense. In fact, the money for the tower was part of a grant which was awarded to the county for the building of the structure.
Although the building is now complete, electricity is not yet hooked up to the structure.
"We don't plan on using the burn rooms until we have had proper training on how to operate them. Therefore, we don't expect to have the tower up and running at its full capacity until this spring when building crews fly down to train us on operating the equipment," stated Boyack.
With what was once a dream for Carbon County fire crews and government officials has now become a reality. And within the next few months, residents will soon feel the positive outcome of building a facility which will allow fire fighters to train under actual conditions.