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Live Fire Training by the Fire Department in Acquired Structures

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Reviewed Date: May 23, 2017

Original Author: 
Wolf, Dennis
Date Created: 
Nov 3, 2003


Subjects:
Fire--Training
Code enforcement--Building demolition

Live Fire Training by the Fire Department in Acquired Structures

Summary: 
MTAS was asked who accepts liability when a house is used for live fire training.

Knowledgebase-Live Fire Training by the Fire Department in Acquired StructuresMr. Darden,
A citizen is wanting to grant the Morrison Fire Department access to a house they have that they want burned down. Usually it works like this: They let the firefighters use the house for training which will eventually lead to burning the house completely down.  Neither the owner nor the firefighters want to be held responsible for the other's liability. How do we handle this matter?
Thank you for the personnel policy. It's going on the next agenda.

Jaime L. Ashby
City Recorder, City of Morrison

Dear Recorder Ashby:
If the citizen wants the fire department to just stand around while the structure burns, the fire department should say, "NO" very loudly. The fire department is not in the business of "demolition of structures". If the owner of the structure will allow the fire department to have access to the property for several weeks while the fire department prepares for and then use the structure for training purposes, then this will be a win-win situation and the fire department should accept responsibility. However, the fire department must carefully follow the guidelines that I have attached. If the property owner is just trying to use the fire department to get a building removed and is in a big hurry, let them use a private contractor to demolish the structure. Do not become any party to issuing a permit for the owner to burn the structure. The fire department, when using the structure for training has some wide variances within the clean air act. If the owner burns the property, they will be in violation of the act and subject to some very steep fines from EPA.

If the fire department is going to use the house for "live fire training" (which I strongly encourage) there are two points that must be made very clear.

1. The City (Fire Department) must accept full liability for the burning of the house.
2. The fire department must follow NFPA 1403 guidelines for live fire training burns.

Without live fire training, firefighters can never gain the experience they need to be effective fire fighters.

Attached for your information is a copy of NFPA 1403 chapter 4 and two check lists that I think are very important.

Denis Wolf
Fire Department Management Consultant
University of Tennessee IPS / MTAS


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