The counties of Fulton and Clayton share more than just being located side-by-side near the 9th largest city in the United States. Just outside of downtown Atlanta, both counties are very serious about fire, emergency and situational training.
In Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, the East Point Fire Department trains regularly on The Lieutenant tower from Fire Facilities, Inc. Installed in 2019, the building is used for ISO facility training requirements, structural fire control training and recruit training. With the structure set up at Fire Station #4, designated as the hub site for running drills and exercises, the department’s 60 personnel are enjoying the ease of being able to train closer to home.
“The benefit for us in having The Lieutenant tower installed on the grounds of one of our fire stations is the convenience of access it allows us in providing instantaneous training,” says City of East Point Fire Department Chief Corey Thornton. “We had the structure custom built, to supply us with multi-floor capability to test and strengthen our response efforts from ground level to elevated heights.
“Furthermore, the burn room allows us to provide live fire training in a controlled setting that enables us to observe our recruits and seasoned firefighters in different situations, to make comments and recommend improvements in their response efforts; as well as our fire tactics.”
Massive Training Opportunities
Next door, in Riverdale, GA, more than 1,200 men and women have access to The Commissioner tower and burn room annex at the Clayton County Fire & Emergency Services training grounds. This county has a mutual aid response for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Clayton State University.
“Having an on-site structure allows us to train three to four times a week at our own location versus traveling to external sites that are much further away,” says Clayton County Fire Department Chief Landry Merkison.
“This structure allows us to host training for live-fire, search and rescue, incident command training, scene size-up, ladder operations, host evolutions, vertical ventilation, hostage drills and flash-bang scenarios, shotgun door breaching, active shooter, high-risk warrant search, building entry, helicopter skid drills, rappelling, crisis intervention, mobile field force, and riot control. That’s a massive amount of training opportunity for one structure.”
Merkison points out that the increased level of training with The Commissioner enhances the knowledge, confidence levels and abilities of Clayton County personnel.
“For the past two years we’ve maxed out the usage of The Commissioner,” says Merkison. “The structure provides the ability to reproduce conditions like actual fire calls: searing heat, smoke-filled halls and rooms, and multiple floors where victims may need rescue.
“In addition, the building provides a controlled environment with numerous safety technologies. A significant benefit is that this structure allows police and fire to train together for scenarios that might include tactical medics, search and rescue, SWAT, crisis intervention, and Fire & EMS personnel. This has resulted in increased skill levels, higher morale and employee engagement. The Commissioner allows for continuous quality and safety management that translates into the continued commitment we have of providing improved quality and the best service to the citizens we serve.”
Dependable and Durable
Located just 10 miles apart, the two Fire Facilities structures have seen repeated use in the past two years.
“The Commissioner has held up exceptionally well, and training has exceeded our expectations,” says Merkison. According to Thornton in East Point, “The tower allows us to move from basic to complex training, which is important so that when our firefighters arrive on scene they can execute properly and perform efficiently in response to whatever the situation may be or demand. At the core, that’s what training does: builds skills, reliance and ability.”
Both The Lieutenant and The Commissioner training structures are Made in America, with American-sourced steel. For 30 years, Fire Facilities has provided customized training structures to meet the unique needs of fire departments all over the world.
“The Lieutenant tower gives us the capability and flexibility of testing different scenarios while managing safety, and it allows us to be trained and ready to respond when called,” says Thornton. “That’s critical in our ability to continue delivering the types of services and responses that our citizens and the community have come to expect and depend on.”