A firefighter lights a fire in a training building for an exercise
A firefighter instructor ignites straw inside the “burn building” training facility to create heat and smoke during the first live-fire training conducted at the Portsmouth Site.

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio — Firefighters at EM’s Portsmouth Site recently conducted the first live-fire training in a newly constructed training facility.

Known as the “burn building,” the facility will be used several times a year for confined-space rescue training and to refine other firefighting techniques.

Portsmouth Site Lead Jeremy Davis toured the facility earlier this year and provided positive feedback.

“I was impressed with the building and the adaptations that could be made to create a variety of rigorous training scenarios for our firefighters,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.”

The event was geared to the site’s fire department training personnel and included several hours of practical training and classroom instruction.

Throughout the training, a team of instructors from Oklahoma demonstrated use of a temperature monitoring system and discussed the building’s features.

One of the instructors was part of the rescue team during the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995; the other led a fire department that responds to more than 3,000 calls per year.

A group of firefighters pose for a picture

From left, firefighter Derek Howell; 1st Due Fire Training Trainer Brian Arnold; firefighter Cameron Clouser; Portsmouth Site Fire Department Manager Tony Wheeler; 1st Due Fire Training Trainer Conner Arnold; and fire commanders Rick Mays and Dan Burkitt.

“The trainers are knowledgeable and ready to discuss how to improve the building’s effectiveness,” said Jim McCleery, the emergency services director with Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth (FBP), the site’s decontamination and decommissioning contractor. “No one concluded the training disappointed.”

The previous training facility had become compromised and no longer met National Fire Protection Association standards for live-fire training.

The new facility’s location offers convenience for scheduling and allows the department to assist with training for local departments and new firefighters.

“The trainers offered suggestions on how we could adjust features in the building as well as methods on how to make each training scenario a little bit different,” FBP Fire Department Manager Tony Wheeler said.

-Contributors: Jim McCleery, Michelle Teeters