Redstone Report: Firefighters burn barracks for training

Firefighters used an old barracks building as a training center.
Firefighters used an old barracks building as a training center.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Some old barracks on Redstone Arsenal will be demolished and a hotel will be put in its place, but while the building is still standing, firefighters are using it as a training center.

Dathan Black, the Chief of Redstone Arsenal's fire department training division remarked, "One of the contractors on base who's going to be demolishing these buildings and making new hotels has given us permission to use them before they basically demolish them."

Firefighters typically stop fires, not start them. That's not the case in this training scenario. Firefighters laid down pallets and used hay and paper shavings to get a fire going.

Just a few months ago, we brought you this "Redstone Report" about a mobile training trailer on loan to the arsenal from the Alabama Fire College. The trailer provided a very controlled environment for firefighters to train, but things were different when training in the old barracks.

"Here, when we're burning pallets, we have to put them out. There's no shut off switch," Black explained. "It adds a little more heat, actually a lot more heat. It adds smoke. Overall, it gives the guys a better change of practicing their fire fighting techniques. They can actually watch how the fire develops," he went on to say.

The U.S. Army mandates this type of training, but the arsenal doesn't have a permanent training facility. "If we were trying to do this training with a facility like we should have, the facility itself, the initial cost would be close to 1 and a half, 2 million dollars. Getting an acquired structure like this? It's free," Black explained.

The barracks have been around since the 1970's. Contractors expect the hotel that will be built in its place will be finished by 2015.

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