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Owego Fire Department constructs new training facility

OWEGO (WBNG) — Construction is underway in Owego and the workers wearing the hard hats are all firefighters.

The Owego Fire Department is working on building its first live burn training facility. It’s a three story building, made out of large storage containers.

“We want to try and build a replica the best we could of a downtown fire because that will be the worst fire an Owego firefighter will face initially,” said Owego fire chief Daniel Gavin.

It’s the second phase of a bigger project. Back in 2014, a classroom was built on the same site to help train firefighters. But Gavin says anyone can read a book in a classroom.

“That’s not life or death or where an injury can happen. We want to make sure when we put you in that environment where all those factors can actually happen that you can still function, and function safely, effectively, and keep your team moving in a positive direction,” said Gavin.

Gavin says this new live burn component will go hand-in-hand with the first phase of the project.

“We want the students to come right out of the classroom, take a short walk right down to the burn building and put their skills to use,” he said.

Hay and wood pallets will be burned inside under controlled circumstances, simulating a real-life experience.

“They produce the heat we’re looking for in a relatively quick setting,” said Gavin. “As firefighters that’s kind of like our adrenaline rush, because we go in these buildings, we feel heat and that’s a good thing. We want to keep going toward that heat because we’re going toward the fire to extinguish the fire.”

While the simulation will be comparable to a building or house fire, there are also safety measures in place to keep things in control.

“We want those environments held to a safer standard. We’re going to put a sprinkler system and stuff like that in case there is a malfunction or a firefighter injury or any type of thing where we need to stop the evolution
immediately,” said Gavin.

The third story of the building will be an open layout, so the department can move things around and create different experiences.

“We want to be able to change it up for the novice firefighter to the most experienced. Every time they go in that building, they don’t know exactly how it’s going to be,”  said Gavin.

Construction has been underway for months now, and it’s expected to be completed and fully functional by the first week of July.

All of the money to construct the facility was raised through fundraisers and donations. All of proceeds from the Fallen Firefighters golf tournament on June 8 will also go toward the project.

Annie Flaherty

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