Harrisonburg Fire Department training grounds add new burn building for training

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The Harrisonburg Fire Department's training grounds located on Mosby Road are the home of a regional training center in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP).

The new burn building should be ready for use by January 1, 2019 | Photo: WHSV

Deputy Chief Matt Tobia, with the Harrisonburg Fire Department, said that since the 1980's, the training ground has provided live fire training for firefighters, but in 2016, the current burn building on site had reached the end of its normal service life. The building is made out of concrete, and the fire training has dried it out, creating a lot of damage and making fires in there unsafe.

However, the building itself is not unsafe and can be used for other kinds of training.

A new burn building is being constructed to bring back live fire training. Several rooms are lined with high temperature lining tile, which protect the building from the heat of the fire and can be replaced as time goes on and they get worn out.

"The first time that a firefighter experiences the heat of a fire, and the zero visibility that attends smoke, should not be when they're actually called to service," said Tobia.

The Virginia Department of Fire Programs provided a $450,000 grant for the new building and the city of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County each contributed $50,000 to complete the project.

The building is a modular design so the interior layout can be changed around, so firefighters do not get too familiar with the layout while training. Right now, the building is two floors, but two additional floors can be added in the future.

It does not only provide live-fire experience, but also technical rope and rescue training as well.

"This is where they build confidence, this is where they build skills, and this is where they reinforce their training over and over again, so that they can provide service professionally throughout the community," said Tobia.

He said the building should last for at least 20 years, and it represents a single-family dwelling, which is what they most often respond to during a fire call.

The building should be ready for use after January 1, 2019.

The old burn building will continue to be used for search and rescue training, rope rescue, ventilation training and ladder training.