For many firefighters, travel time is the most significant deterrent to quality training. Even an hour each way can make a big difference, especially if you only have a three-hour block of training time.
“Previously, we spent two-thirds of our allotted training session just traveling back and forth to the training site,” said Kissimmee Fire Chief Jim Walls. “It was pretty frustrating. That all changed when we got The Fire Chief training model in 2020.”
Located at the new City of Kissimmee Public Safety Training Center, the five-story Fire Facilities Inc. steel tower is just minutes away from City of Kissimmee fire stations, making it easy for the City’s 100 firefighters to use the facility. It’s positioned at the joint location with Kissimmee Police, so that the structure can also be used for SWAT training and rappelling exercises by 150 law enforcement officers in the City of Kissimmee.
Another benefit of the new facility is the potential for cross-training available with other Central Florida departments. St. Cloud Fire Rescue has The Fire Chief model used for fire and tactical training. Osceola County has The Commissioner model. Joint training programs are under discussion between the three locations.
Customized for Training Needs
According to Chief Walls, it’s not just about having a facility close by. It’s about the customization of their Fire Chief model.
“We have multiple apartment complexes in our community,” said Walls. “With The Fire Chief we’re able to do a lot of simulated garden-style apartment structure fires. We conduct roof operations on the roof prop. Plus, we practice high-angle and rope bailouts. These are all very specific training for the needs of our community.”
Also crucial to Chief Walls is the flexibility of the internal design. The moveable “walls” on the first floor allow training leaders to reconfigure the rooms to conduct unique search and rescue drills.
“At our previous training site, the rooms were fixed,” Walls added. “After repeated training, you get to know the layout. This moveable scenario always presents a different challenge, because we can create different room layouts.”
The versatility of The Fire Chief continues with the burn room capabilities on the first and second floors. “We can also use the search rooms, conduct high-angle rope rescue scenarios, and customize the facility for our own unique needs,” says Walls. “We take pride in this building and really love it. The Fire Facilities team was great to work with and helped guide us through the entire process.”
Investment in Training
Deputy Fire Chief Jeremy Donovan agrees that the new training model benefits local firefighters.
“The live fire training is always a favorite,” said Donovan. “The almost instant availability of the structure has allowed us to conduct more training than ever before. Having more access to training has made marked difference in real-world performance for our firefighters. Training today pays off tomorrow and beyond.”
Standing 40-feet high and running 60-feet in length, The Fire Chief features a residential-like design on the first floor with a burn room. There are interior stairs to multiple floors, an internal fixed ladder, roof-mounted chop-out curbs, and a parapet roof guard with a chain opening.
“We’re very fortunate that the City of Kissimmee approved the funding for the new Public Safety Training Center,” added Donovan. “Along with The Fire Chief, the new center includes an indoor gun range for law enforcement, a large classroom building, and offices for both fire and police training personnel. This complex benefits every public safety employee in Kissimmee, along with all our residents.”