Davis County fire training center opens

Tuesday , July 16, 2013 - 1:41 AM

Antone Clark

LAYTON — City officials will cut the ribbon on a $1.3 million fire training facility this morning, which is the first of its kind in Davis County.

Mayor Steve Curtis is expected to join with dignitaries to cut the ribbon on a new three-story complex at 1890 N. Fort Lane that will allow firefighters to practice a wide range of skills from fighting different kinds of fires to simulating rescues from hotels or apartments and rappelling off the building. The ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 10 a.m.

The event will include firefighters conducting firefighting skills demonstrations with theatrical smoke, said Doug Bitton, public information officer for the Layton City Fire Department.

The building will serve as a training center for the LCFD but also will be available for use by the Davis Applied Technology Fire Academy and all Davis County fire departments.

The facility will also be available for continued training needs of Davis/Weber County Urban Search and Rescue teams, Bitton said.

The training center comes with a number of training options, from burn rooms with special liners that can handle temperatures up to 1,200 degrees, to special staircases, allowing training for a basement fire or a balcony fire. It gives firefighters a chance at hard-to-find simulated training experiences.

Bitton said new regulations make it harder than ever for firefighters to find structures where they can learn to deal with a live fire. The center resolves that problem.

Besides the safety center, construction on the site included a new 5,000-square-foot apparatus storage facility and the remodel of an existing 2,400-square-foot structure.

The apparatus building will provide a location for the department’s Fire Corps, a citizen-based volunteers’ organization and will also store a fire engine to be used for training.

With training equipment on site, crews will be able to train without taking front-line apparatus out of service, Bitton said.

Some of the fire department’s equipment had been stored at the Freeport Center in Clearfield, said Chief Kevin Ward.

Ward said fire officials from several fire departments already have expressed interest in using the facility for training. City officials wrestled with how much to charge for those training exercises before voting in May to set training without live fire at $75 per hour and training with live fire, including use of burn rooms, theater smoke and a smoke machine, at $1,000 per four-hour session. The live fire requires a minimum of three instructors of the LCFD to be present.

One fire official, Battalion Chief Jared Sholly, told city officials earlier this year that he had some firefighters on the force for five years with little experience actually fighting fires. The department gets more than 5,000 calls a year but handles only 15 to 20 fires a year, Sholly said.

Sholly said the facility will be heavily used and will increase training capability of the LCFD by 10 times its current level.

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