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Operations Manual

OCTOBER 28, 2003


To provide firefighters with a realistic, safe area in which to practice the many aspects of firefighting. This includes live fire training utilizing Class A combustibles as fuel, primarily hay, to build fires inside the structures to simulate conditions that occur during structure fires.


To familiarize the firefighters with the challenges of firefighting, and to provide a means to become more confident and competent in dealing with fire control and extinguishment, through hands on training.


For each student/firefighter to learn and to practice the skills necessary to combat fires and safely utilize the tools and apparatus needed for all aspects of firefighting.



The multi-story burn building is designed and constructed to provide many scenarios for firefighter training. These include but are not limited to; interior fire attack, ventilation, ladders, rope rescue, SCBA training, search and rescue, hose handling, utilization and support of fire protection systems and teamwork involved to accomplish the above.

The building is constructed of steel reinforced concrete with 4” of concrete cover over the steel on the hot face side of the ceiling. Also, ¾” plywood is bolted to these ceilings to provide sacrificial shielding to the concrete, to prevent spalling due to thermal cycling.

Windows and doors are constructed of heavy gauge galvanized steel. The doors have simple to operate latches, both inside and out to provide safe entry and egress.

The building is equipped with a standpipe system and a sprinkler system. The sprinkler system utilizes fused link heads, or may be activated manually with open heads to demonstrate how sprinklers control fires.

The multi-story is divided into two sections. The east side simulates garden type apartments, condominiums, or two story single-family residences. It is commonly referred to as the residential side”. The west side commonly referred to as the “commercial side” simulates high racks storage areas, strip centers, small manufacturing occupancies, hotel/motel rooms, or office buildings.

The elevator shaft simulator physically connects the two sides of the structure. It is to be used as an area of safe refuge and egress in emergencies, and provide hookup to the standpipe system. Fires are not permitted in this space, or in any space adjacent to the shaft so designated by the signs or floor and wall markings. Vertical access is also provided for in this shaft, via a ladder up through spring loaded floor hatches.

The ventilation hatches on the sloped roof can be used as is or with various roofing materials that may be actually cut out of the hatch, taking care not to damage the surrounding concrete. Safety railings are located beneath each hatch, that do not interfere with the use of roof ladders. Safety line tie off rings are also provided for on the sloped roof.

The firebox on the south side is equipped with ducts to most areas of both sides of the building. Any obstacle maize or other props erected inside the buildings may be used, but NO FIRES are allowed in these rooms. Dismantling of these props is NOT ALLOWED unless permission is given by the LPFD administration.

The balcony on the east side is a true “cantilever balcony”, and should be treated as such. Care should be taken not to overload this area with excessive personnel or equipment. This area is primarily used to remove students from the building in an emergency.

All balconies, stairs and landings are equipped with handrails. These rails are not to be used for personnel tie of points for repelling, or stokes lifts.


This structure is built with the same materials and basic design as the multi-story. It is laid out to simulate a single family resident. There are attic access panels as well as roof ventilation hatches, which can also be used as actual cut out panels.


This drafting pond is to be used to train for rural drafting operations, to simulate the usual problems encountered, such as mud, debris, and limited access. The water pumped from the pond should be placed back into the pond. Extreme care should be taken not to erode or wash away embankments or sod with hose streams. Care should also be taken to keep any contaminants such as hydrocarbons from entering the pond that could affect the aquatic life. Water from this pond SHALL NOT be connected to or pumped to any fixed systems, or fire hydrants on or near the training field, to prevent possible contamination of the potable water supply.


The pumper test pit is used primarily to teach drafting theory. The water is pumped from the suction chamber, through the pumper, and discharged back into the pit thereby circulating the water. Water should NEVER be pumped out of the pit. Hoses should be connected to the discharge tube of the pit so the water can be circulated. Occasionally, the pit may be used to test new pumpers, or those that have been repaired or due for capacity testing.

Prolonged exposure of heated exhaust to the pavement should not occur. Place a piece of plywood on the concrete to shield it from the vehicle exhaust. Primer pump oil/water discharge should be caught in a pail and taken back with the user for proper disposal.


Occasionally there will be old cars or trucks on the field for rescue and extrication training. If these are used, ALL safety equipment will be utilized to minimize injury. These include but are not limited to bunker gear, gloves, and face shields. Any parts or pieces removed from the vehicles will be put inside the vehicle and the area swept up, to prevent glass or metal from being struck by lawn equipment.


The tank truck prop is to be used for hazardous materials training, such as identification, repair and patching. These type props are not equipped to be burned. Cutting, drilling, or anything else that permanently damages the tank is prohibited.


This prop is similar to the tank truck prop, in that it can be used for virtually anything other than burning, No cutting or drilling is allowed on the rail car.


This small metal building is used for storing hat, tools, and equipment. Absolutely no smoking or open flame is allowed in or near this building. Be sure to turn off the lights and lock the door before leaving.




A letter should be placed on file at the fire administration that indicates that the personnel of the company or department leasing the field are under the control of that company and covered by insurance. This must be updated if changes are made.


A LPFD training field form should be on file at the fire administration to provide current contact person and billing information.



Protective equipment such as boots, pants, coats, helmets, hoods, gloves and SCBA shall meet or exceed the appropriate NFPA standard, and shall be worn when engaging in any activities that could result in injury, or when entering a hazardous environment/

Prior to the training session, all students and instructors should discuss the objectives and procedures. A walk through of the building will be included in the pre-training discussion.

All protective equipment, ropes, rescue equipment, tools, etc. must be properly maintained and periodically inspected by the users to provide for sage operations.


Vertical ventilation openings including floor, ceiling and roof hatches should be opened carefully and the openings protected to prevent someone falling through. Following the scenario, the Safety Officer or Instructor shall inspect these openings to insure they are in place for the next group.

Safety lines or rope should be utilized whenever possible to prevent students from becoming disoriented or lost inside the building.

Ropes used to support people are to be tied only to the anchor point rings that are cast in place. Do not use handrails, standpipes, or guardrails for lifting or lowering students or victims.

Interior attack or search teams must contain at least two firefighters. Teamwork should be stressed, and practiced. The lead Instructor and/or Safety Officer must know how many students are entering a building, and insure they are all accounted for.

The only fuel allowed is hay, straw, or excelsior. No liquid fuels of any kind are allowed. (See ”HOW TO BUILD FIRES”)

A safety shower and eyewash are available on the rear of the multi-story building.



Do use the clean up equipment and leave the site as you found it, or better.

Do keep apparatus OFF unpaved areas.

Do use all protective equipment.

Do encourage students to drink plenty of fluids during re-hab.

Do encourage students to remove excess gear between evolutions to prevent heat prostration.

Do more fluffing with less straw/hay.

Do put out the fires completely.

Do report unserviceable or damaged equipment.

Do follow the operations manual.

Do enjoy yourselves and learn, in a safe, training atmosphere.

Do treat the training as seriously as it is in the real world.

Do provide a positive attitude.

Do keep the burn racks one foot away from the walls and move them around to prevent constant burn to one place on the ceiling.

Do collect and place IN THE TRASH CAN all baling twine/wire.

Do park on the parking lot.

Do drain and flush all pump piping that may have foam in them, prior to coming to the field.

Do have your breathing air vendor pick up their equipment upon completion of the training.


Don’t burn ANYTHING other than the fuels listed in the operations manual

Don’t use areas of the building for lounges or re-hab area, unless it is part of the scenario

Don’t deliberately use the furniture or props for fuel.

Don’t leave gear or equipment on stairs.

Don’t permit actual forcing of doors or windows.

Don’t allow horseplay.

Don’t permit any daredevil or unsafe acts.

Don’t leave a mess; treat it like it is yours.

Don’t expect bigger fires from more fuel.

Don’t do anything that is unsafe or that could cause excessive damage to the building

Don’t throw re-hab drink containers or other trash in the mulch pile.

Don’t use any type of firefighting foam on the field.



The objective in building fires with the acceptable fuels is to present heat, smoke, flames, and the associated affects of interior fires to the students in a manner that closely simulates what they may be faced with in a real structure fire.


The only fuels allowed are hay, straw, or excelsior Class A combustibles. All fuel materials should be kept dry. Wet fuels will not produce good fires. The amount of hay used is normally ¼ to ½ of a bale per rack depending on the size of the rack. The three-tiered racks may take a full bale.

The critical factor is fluffing the hay, as high as possible. The rapid flame and heat production depends on the availability of air to the fuel. The more fuel exposed, the better the fire. Watch for ants, thorns, etc. in the bales and act accordingly.

All fires should be built upon the burn racks or in the burn barrels. Care should be taken when loading the racks that have vertical pins to hold the hay, so as not to puncture hands and arms.

Prior to starting the call, all ceiling plywood should be wet down thoroughly to help prevent excess burn damage.

Normally the smaller rooms will require only one rack to achieve the desired results. Some of the larger rooms may need two. The burn racks should be moved around to prevent burn through of the plywood due to continuous burns in one place. The racks should be placed at least one foot from the walls to prevent wall spalling.


Ensure there are not burning or smoldering fuels near the rack. The lower horizontal racks hold about ¼ to ½ of a bale of hay if properly fluffed. The angled rack will take the remainder of the bale. Fluff up the hay on the floor and THEN place it over the vertical pins on the angled rack. Use gloves and don’t impale you hand or arm on the pins. Hay that falls to the floor should be thrown back on the rack. You won’t get it all, but try.


Depending on the evolution, timing is THE critical factor in presenting the burn to the students. Light it too soon, it will burn out, and to late, the students will extinguish it before it lights off to give the desired results.

The propane torch should be used to ignite the rack swiftly and thoroughly all across the lowest portion of the rack.

The motion is a swift sweep across the lowest edge of the fuel form one end to the other. Any residual hay that falls to the floor beneath the rack should also be ignited.

Special configurations of fuel, such s wet/dry mixtures, may require adjustments of the ignition process.


A properly loaded and ignited hay fire on the rack will produce very little smoke. However, it will produce adequate heat. To produce the desired amount of smoke, some moist hat can be placed on the rack, or in barrels to act as smudge pots.

If smoke and heat are all that is needed, you may consider using the firebox/duct system, instead of loading the racks in the room. Flexibility and adaptability is the name of the game.

Remember, good fire construction is an art, not a science.


Following each fire, there will be a certain amount of clean up. Wet burned hay needs to be removed from the rack and stockpiled out of the way in that room. At some point during or at the completion of the day, the debris should be picked up and disposed of and all floors and pads washed off, including the pavement areas around the building. Clean up tools and carts are available.

The debris is to be placed at the designated location for composting. Insure that these materials are TOTALLY extinguished.

Before leaving, insure all fire hydrants and standpipes are shut off, all windows and doors secured, roof, ceiling, and floor hatches closed, clean up equipment stored, fuel storage building is locked, lights off in storage building, and gate is locked upon leaving.

The rest rooms should be swept and mopped at the end of the class. Fixtures cleaned and trash taken to the dumpster.

La Porte Fire Training Facility Instructors checklist will be filled out, signed, dated, and returned to the La Porte Fire Department Administration Office, after each use.

Please do a thorough clean up and leave the site presentable for the next group.