A new one-of-a-kind facility which has been approved to be built in Bridgeport will allow firefighters to receive training they don't get in the field much these days.
"We suffer from a successful fire prevention program in the United States," Bridgeport Fire Chief Robert Seccuro said. "What I mean by that is the number of fires are down. People are not getting the on-the-job training that they once did. The whole point of having this type of facility is to teach firefighters how to fight fires again."
Using $130,000 put aside for emergency services, $110,000 from fire fees and unanimous approval by Bridgeport City Council during Monday night's meetings, a fire training facility will be placed near the fire station.
The facility, which is constructed by California-based Drager
, is made of multiple shipping containers one might use for overseas shipping and uses hay, cardboard and oriented strand boards -- which is projected to cost between $500 - $1,000 to stock yearly -- as fuel to simulate various types of fires. The inside can easily be adjusted so various types of fire scenarios can be safely simulated as well.
Because of its one-of-a-kind nature, the Bridgeport Fire Department will open the facility up for others to train with as long as they follow the same safety standards and pay a $250 yearly fee.
"We're going to open this up to any fire department that wants to use it," Seccuro said. "All we ask is that they help us maintain it by paying that $250 fee. If we're not using it and the police department isn't using it or it's not already signed up for another class, then they can come burn in it all they want to. It'll give them the opportunity a lot of other places don't have."
Other than for fire training, police training can also be conducted in it -- the example given during Seccuro's presentation to city council was responding to a theater shooting -- as well as Community Emergency Response Teams training.
Other than offering use of the facility for a fee, the department evaluated other methods to help fund the maintenance and upkeep. Having 70 percent of the staff trained to be compliant with the National Fire Protection Association which helps keep liabilities in a favorable positions.
"We've got some young guys in the department but we've got some seasoned personnel too that have been around for a while and teaching for a while," Seccuro said. "So we're going to have the numbers of instructors that we need to meet the National Fire Protection Association standards for doing training burns, and things like that, without having to do a lot of extra training associated with that."
The nature of the facility lends itself to felxability. While the current proposed structure would esentially be two units stacked vetically and towo horizontally, if the department is so inclined, it can add additional untis as they see fit.