Augusta County teams up with students to learn about new building materials

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV)— On Friday, Augusta County Fire-Rescue partnered with the Valley Career and Technical Center to see how different building materials react to flames.

Firefighers test how different materials burn using a building by Valley Career and Technical Education students. | Credit: WHSV

Augusta County Fire-Rescue Lieutenant Darren Hemp said building materials and codes are always changing, and its important for firefighters to keep up.

"A big part of our job is learning building construction, learning how fire reacts to the building, and how the building reacts to fire," Hemp said.

Students in the Valley Career and Technical Center built a model roof, floor and walls, as well as a building out of newer materials.

"We can always read data sheets and watch videos and things like that, but it really helps us to get hands on with it," Hemp said.

Hemp said they were surprised to see how the newer siding reacted to the fire.

"Exterior burn temperature on one of our walls we did was 1150 degrees when measured. On the backside of that same wall, it was 65 degrees," Hemp said.

He said knowing how different materials burn is important for their safety.

"A big concern for us is how much time we've got to work with, how much survivable space is left for the people inside," Hemp said.

Bradley Bryant, a carpentry instructor at Valley Career and Technical Center, said it was an important partnership for his students.

"It's irreplaceable to have students become community involved, to have our firefighters get the training that could save some of their own lives," Bryant said.

Bryant said they plan to continue the partnership and have other training opportunities in the future.

"We've already found a couple other types of training projects that we can do, where we can build a small roof that they can tear into," Hemp said.

Hemp said they plan to take the data they collect and share it throughout the county and with their partner agencies.