Fourteen men and women in the Clallam County Fire District 3 Volunteer Recruit Academy participated in a St. Patrick Day live fire training exercise at the former Fairview School site east of Port Angeles.
Students of the Clallam County Fire District 3 Volunteer Recruit Academy participate in a live fire drill March 17. Photo by Patrick Young
Each student took turns leading a team into a specially constructed training device to fight a real fire, said Patrick Young, public information officer with District 3.
Young said the Live Fire Training Simulator, also called a burn box, uses wooden pallets that are burned to create the kind of flames, temperature and smoke that the students would face in a real structural fire.
The Volunteer Recruit Academy is a training program that takes ordinary citizens from inside the fire district and trains them to become active volunteer firefighters, he said.
The 14 students took turns leading a team into a burn box to fight a live fire. Photo by Patrick Young
Students learn all aspects of fire fighting from fire science to fire fighting tactics and the drill March 17 allowed them to put what they learned to the test.
Temperatures in the burn box can range from 100 degrees at floor level to more than 1,000 degrees at the ceiling level, Young said. The wood smoke, while not as dark or toxic as a real structure fire, provides a simulation of how claustrophobic and confusing a fire can be.
Current volunteers will conduct the same live fire training on March 24.
The 2012 Recruit Academy students are poised to graduate this month and be assigned to a station near their residence, Young said.
Interest cards for becoming a volunteer firefighter are available at District Headquarters, 323 N. Fifth Ave., in Sequim.