Learning the ropes

The Minot Fire Department is in the process of relocating its training facility from the north side of the city to the south. The department hopes to have the training area operational by the end of February.

Planned expansion of the Minot Airport caused the fire department to lose its longtime training facility, which was located south of the airport control tower. The new facility is located along the U.S. Highway 2 & 52 Bypass and east of Maysa Arena. A burn building and training tower are the main features in the complex, which is constructed to closely resemble situations firemen might encounter when called to action within the city.

“The idea is to have a regular city street with proper setbacks and everything,” said C. J. Craven, fire chief.

Accurate street dimensions will help acquaint drivers of firetrucks with the reality of maneuvering lengthy trucks on city streets. It will also prove valuable to firefighters, who will familiarize themselves with actual distances required to move hoses and other necessary support equipment that might be needed to combat a fire.

The burn building at the new facility was moved in one piece from its former location near the Minot airport to its new south bypass location. The burn building has proven to be an integral part of training for all firefighters, especially those new to the department. It is where new firefighters receive their baptism of fire and are introduced to proper application of a variety of important fire-fighting tactics.

“That’s where they get introduced to heat. It can be quite an experience for them,” said Tim Beach, assistant fire chief. “They learn spray patterns and how to control fire, to move it one way or another.”

The burn building was placed on a foundation at the new site. However, the foundation did not adequately match up with the structure and is in need of adjustments and improvements before it will properly fit the building. Those modifications will require the burn building to be moved off the foundation for an

undetermined period of time.

The training tower at the airport location was not moveable, so a new training tower has been constructed at the bypass location. The new training tower is four stories in height. It has both interior and exterior staircases designed to duplicate what firefighters may encounter during an actual fire call. In addition, there is a large cylindrical shaft running from the base of the tower to the top. During some training sessions firefighters will enter the shaft to simulate possible rescues and other firefightng tactics.

Another key feature of the tower is that it will be utilized to practice rappelling, a tactic all firefighters must learn. Rappelling is the use of ropes and a portable block and tackle system to ascend or descend, such as on the exterior of a building. In the case of a firefighter, a rappelling system can be effectively employed to move firefighting equipment when necessary or save the lives of both firefighters and those that may require rescue at a fire scene.

“It’s a good training building for Minot,” said Beach.

The location of the training center was an important consideration. The new center, and the department’s headquarters station, are both located on the south side of the city. That means a much quicker response time for firefighters involved in training sessions in the event that would become necessary.