During the past decade, firefighters in the Platte Valley Fire Protection District have relied on The Deputy Chief for ongoing training. Located in Kersey, CO, the three-story fire training tower includes two burn rooms in a residential-type building.
“At least 500 firefighters have trained in this facility since it opened in 2012,” says Caleb T. Eytcheson, training lieutenant for Platte Valley Fire Protection District. “We conduct quarterly live fire trainings with all of our members. For these trainings we include our auto-aid/mutual aid departments.”
To maximize use of the training tower, Eytcheson relates that nearby mutual aid departments host FFI/FFII academy training twice yearly. In addition, Colorado State Patrol, Weld County Sheriffs and representatives from local oil and gas companies have trained at the facility.
The all-hazards special district of Platte Valley serves the towns of Kersey and Gill, along with unincorporated areas of Weld County, CO. The total area includes approximately 5,000 residents, plus parts of two large ranches and significant amounts of oil and gas production. The team currently includes 18 career line staff, six administrative staff, one reserve firefighter and three part time firefighters.
Training for Everyone
Constructed with a 30-foot tower that’s ideal for rappelling and laddering, The Deputy Chief offers a variety of training scenarios. The convenience of having the steel structure located next to the community’s state-of-the-art fire station makes it easy for scheduling training sessions.
“The ability to have live fire training in our backyard is amazing,” says Eytcheson. “By far, any live fire training is the most popular use of the tower. Having the tower so close by allows us to make training a priority and increases scheduling capabilities.
“This type of training helps replicate what our team members experience on emergency calls. It prepares them to serve our community. When one group is not using the tower, another group is scheduled in. For example, our tech rescue team is often using the tower for their complicated training sessions.”
Ready for 10 More Years
After 10 years of continual use, Eytcheson says that The Deputy Chief has held up well. Regular maintenance and procedures to guard against damages assure that the investment made by the city more than a decade ago continues to provide a strong return on investment.
“We’ve learned a lot using this Fire Facilities structure,” says Eytcheson. “At this point it would be great to have more moveable walls, a prop for simulating pulling ceilings and even a garage for simulating attached garage fires. Over the years, those have become scenarios we see in the field that we need to train for. However, The Deputy Chief continues to serve our overall needs.
To “mix things up” a bit and offer different training opportunities, two events are planned for 2023 where Platte Valley Fire Protection District will train on The Commissioner four-story tower about 15 miles away in Gilcrest, CO. The fire team from Gilcrest will “swap out” and train on The Deputy Chief structure.
“Switching up the training will benefit both departments,” says Eytcheson. “There are great differences between the two Fire Facilities structures and I believe firefighters from both units will enjoy the swap-over training.”