DENISON, Iowa — A proposed training facility will enable the Denison Volunteer Fire Department to do live-fire training in a controlled environment.
The city will accept bids Friday for a fire training facility to be constructed of steel intermodal containers.
It will be built on property purchased this summer by the City of Denison just west of the city's yard-waste disposal site. The land will provide the two acres of training space required by national firefighting rating standards.
For years, department members have trained numerous hours each month on individual skills but have been able to conduct company-based training only when a property owner donated a building to burn.
Even then, the training is in a defensive mode in which firefighters control a fire, not the offensive training needed to limit property damage.
Fire department members decided on the intermodal containers after researching steel container training facilities used by other fire departments.
Several containers are put together to form shapes to simulate a house or building layout. The facility will have one burn room and one smoke room, both with fire-resistant liners.
The steel containers offer versatility and adaptability. A training facility constructed of steel containers will be significantly less expensive than a concrete structure and will have lower annual maintenance costs.
The facility is expected to cost $240,000 to $260,000. The facility could be financed through yearly payments that will allow the Denison Volunteer Fire Department to continue to accrue funds for other uses.
“We are working with a limited budget and will have to use some volunteer help with specialized equipment” to build the facility, Volunteer Fire Department Chief Cory Snowgren said.
Snowgren said no additional taxes or funding allocation will be needed.
“We studied how to fund this without impacting taxes,” he said. “If it would have required something significant like that, we would have taken a step back and re-evaluated it.”
The department's most recent training facility has been the old Denison Municipal Utilities building located on Fifth Avenue South. The building has fallen into disrepair, with falling ceiling tiles and failed ceiling joists, and is inhabited by animals.
Even when it was safe, the City of Denison Emergency Services Training Center could not be used for live-fire training.
The live-fire training is imperative, said Snowgren and Assistant Chief Blake Deiber, in order to expose firefighters to controlled conditions similar to what they will encounter in a structural fire.
“A live-fire offensive training facility will enable us to have more realistic smoke and heat — factors firefighters will see inside a burning building,” Deiber said.
Training as teams will enable firefighters to operate more efficiently, Snowgren said.
“Although the firefighting teams may be in charge of different functions, everyone is on the same page in terms of fighting a fire,” Snowgren said. “This will produce a better result given the conditions firefighters are faced with.”