When students at Liberty University decided to create a film on the life of a retired firefighter, they reached out to the nearby Bedford (Va.) Fire Training Facility for assistance. They needed to simulate a burning house for a key scene. And the fire department’s Assistant Fire Chief training structure provided the ideal support for the movie setting.
Standing at 40-feet high, The Assistant Fire Chief from Fire Facilities, Inc. features a fire training tower, residential section, and burn room annex. To create the appearance of a burning home for the movie, a small building was constructed within inches of the fire training tower. Through the tricks of cinematography, this made the structure look like a true two-story residential wood frame home.
“This scene didn’t go as planned,” says Bedford (Va.) Fire Department Chief Brad Creasy, CFO with the. “Just after the movie’s main character exited the building, it was supposed to collapse. Unfortunately the cable snapped and the small fire set by their pyrotechnics crew grew quickly into an inferno. Our team was right there to extinguish the unexpected blaze.”
A unique experience for both the firefighters and the university’s students, the film was released in 2018.
“The Assistant Fire Chief structure was installed in 2008, the same year I became Chief in Bedford,” says Creasy, a firefighter with 25 years experience. “The movie was a one-time event.
“Traditionally more than 500 firefighters train in the building each year. This includes the county’s Firefighter I & II Academy, a neighboring regional fire academy, area volunteer fire departments, a local industrial fire brigade, and the county’s annual truck school. We also have our local sheriff’s office and police department personnel using the structure to conduct K-9 searches and officer survival scenarios.”
Sitting on seven acres that are part of the Bedford Area Fire Training Facility, the steel structure includes a residential section and annex. Each has a burn room for multiple training scenarios. The four-story tower offers varied training exercises including laddering, rappelling, roof penetration, and high-angle rescue operations.
“The site is a true partnership between the Town of Bedford and Bedford County,” says Creasy. “We’ve really worked our Fire Facilities building hard for almost 15 years. We’re pleased with how the building handles the amount of steady use.
“We continue to add props around the facility to enhance training. However, The Assistant Fire Chief is such a comprehensive training unit that we really don’t need to make many changes. It continues to meet our needs year after year.”
Quality Product for Quality Training
According to Creasy, the training benefits of The Assistant Fire Chief are noteworthy.
“This building has provided an outstanding training platform for live-fire conditions,” says Creasy. “In addition, we also use the structure to train on standpipe/high rise operations, ventilation, forcible entry, searching, and a multitude of other areas.
“The Assistant Fire Chief is a definite asset to all of us in the Bedford area. This training structure was a positive investment for our departments and firefighters. We continue to be pleased with the quality of the unit plus the customer service support we’ve received over the years.”