About The Project

In Carlsbad, N.M., firefighters are getting big training results from working with The Trainee, a four-room, single-story burn building. Since 2018, the all-steel structure has provided realistic fire experiences for about 90 personnel in the Eddy County Fire and Rescue, a combination department that operates out of 23 stations and covers about 4,900 square miles.

“Personnel get a sense of what fire and smoke looks and feels like in a controlled training environment with The Trainee,” says Division Chief of Training, Richard Burks, for Eddy County Fire and Rescue,. “This gives them some understanding of how it feels to fight a fire in full protective gear, wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus and dragging a charged hose line and tools. All this, while focusing on attacking the fire as a team.

“The Trainee allows firefighters — especially newer personnel — to gain confidence in their abilities to operate under fire conditions.”

Range of Training

Manufactured by Fire Facilities, the Trainee’s house-like appearance offers basic functionality for conducting live fire training in a burn room. The 24-foot long by 30-foot wide by 10-foot tall steel building has a pitched roof for roof exercises. There are also four interior and four exterior steel doors, plus eight window openings with steel shutters and a four-foot-square chop-out curb.

“This structure is well built and easy to maintain,” says Burks. “It’s held up well to our repeated training practices. While a larger training facility would allow us to do different training scenarios, we’re very pleased with the range of training we’re able to accomplish on The Trainee.

“The best used scenarios for our firefighters on this structure are fire attacks in each room. We also use behavioral burns for the newer firefighters during their academics, plus search and rescue scenarios, and fire streams.”

Sharpening Skills

The Trainee is used by firefighters in Carlsbad and Hobbs, N.M. In addition, fire and emergency personnel from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad train at the site. Originally purchased with funding from a donation by Chevron, The Trainee has become an essential part of fire training in Eddy County.

“Working within The Trainee has helped our personnel to position apparatus, pull and advance hose lines, ventilation, and other firefighting operations,” says Burks. “For us, the most important use of The Trainee has been the ability to work with other fire departments. These cross-training experiences in real-life training scenarios help us all sharpen our skills.”

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