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Ga. FD uses acquired structure for months of training

Dalton firefighters used an abandoned house for several firefighting evolutions

By Charles Oliver
The Daily Citizen

DALTON, Ga. — Dalton Fire Department firefighters regularly train at the department’s burn building, and while that training is valuable, it isn’t quite the same as an actual structural fire, said Chief of Training Keith Dempsey.

“A fixed burn facility is a non-combustible structure, meaning it is made out of things that won’t burn,” Dempsey said. “So we have to add fuel inside. What we use is shipping pallets.”

Dempsey spoke Tuesday as firefighters burned an abandoned house on Keith Street and practiced their firefighting skills on it. It was the second house on the site the department has burned. The property is owned by Christian Heritage School, which allowed the department to train on the site in return for demolishing the structures.

“In a fixed burn facility, you lose the natural fire behavior dynamics that you get from a structural fire like we have today,” Dempsey said. “These structures being real houses present a more lifelike, for lack of a better term, fire than what you get in a fixed burn facility. We get a much better quality of training.”

Battalion Chief Brandon Bray said such training is invaluable.

“We’ve got some guys who have only been in the department for a year or two who’ve never been able to do this sort of training,” he said. “It helps keep all of us sharp.”

Dempsey said the department has been training on the site for about 10 or 11 months.

“We’ve been doing hose line stretches, interior searches, ventilation training, firefighter rescue, pretty much the gamut of training,” he said. “These opportunities don’t come along very often, and when they do, we can’t always burn the building (because they are too close to other structures or for other reasons).”


That’s why the opportunity to burn and to train on two different houses has been so important. They burned the first house in November. But the second was too close to a wooded area to burn while the weather was so dry. They returned this week to complete their training.

“We are training every day to provide a better service to the citizens of the city,” Dempsey said. “We pride ourselves in being on the tip of the spear.”

City of Dalton Communications Director Bruce Frazier said members of the training division wake up each morning asking themselves “What can we do today?”

“The firefighters train every day,” he said. “When they aren’t on a call, they are training. We had several freezing cold days not too long ago, and they were doing rescue drills on frozen ponds. They take advantage of the opportunities that come up.”

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