Students training at the 79,604-sq-ft facility will almost forget that they're not fighting real-world fires. The fires will, of course, be real, but the training will be accomplished with optimum safeguards. The computerized safety arrangements included in the live-fire training equipment can quench the fire and snuff the smoke almost instantly, should any trainee encounter real difficulties.
For its live-fire training facilities, TCC has created a replica "Burn City," complete with a strip mall, a high-rise, an apartment complex/hotel, and several configurations of private houses, any and all of which can be set on fire by the instructors. There's also a car fire, a tractor-trailer fire, a trench fire, a running fuel spill, and a river that can be whipped into a witch's cauldron for training in swift-water rescue. The facility includes 11 separate types of fires, ranging from storage and office to commercial kitchen to bedroom.
Fanning the flamesSymtron Systems Inc. was called on to provide live-fire trainers that meet the safety and environmental requirements of today, but continue to challenge trainees with the same smoke, flames, and intense heat they'll meet in actual incidents. Environmentally inert smoke and clean-burning fuels are employed. Sensors constantly monitor the training equipment, and scenarios are computer-controlled for consistent class-to-class training.
The computer also performs background checks on the equipment to ensure correct operation. In the event of an unsafe condition or emergency, the computer immediately aborts the training scenario: flames are automatically extinguished, smoke is evacuated, and interior temperatures are reduced.
An intentional backdraft?In order to meet the center's HVAC needs, computer-generated load calculations were performed to provide room, system, and building load analyses for all 12 months, in order to ensure system capability for the unusually large and unshaded glass areas at various exposures. With proper control zones established, central multizone air-handling systems were installed, with individually controlled supply ducts serving each major space and with additional zone ducts to offset large glass exposures in classrooms, all served by a four-pipe chilled and heating water system. All systems are controlled by a Siemens DDC system that is integrated into the campus-wide EMS.
Building chilled and heating water systems were arranged in anticipation of tying into a remote central power plant via a walk-through underground utility tunnel. With plant expansion delayed, a temporary boiler building was provided at the tunnel near the main building, with a high-efficiency heating water boiler and two air cooled water chilling units, each sized for efficient permanent use elsewhere when the central plant and balance of the tunnel system become available.
The outdoor classroom facilities feature evaporative spray cooling systems and radiant gas-fired heating units to facilitate reasonable measures of climate protection. The Fire Apparatus Learning Lab acts as a simulated "Fire Hall" with instructional bays containing operating fire trucks. This facility is also air conditioned with a central multizone air-handling system, and includes a specialized fire truck vehicle exhaust system with automatic activation control and automatic tailpipe detachment as the fire trucks are driven out of the facility.
The five "Burn Buildings," which serve as hands-on firefighting training units, while neither heated or cooled, are provided with critical smoke evacuation exhaust systems for rapid removal of heat and combustion products during training exercises.
An automatic fire sprinkler system serves the entire complex, including operator-controlled simulated sprinkler systems provided for each high-rise burn building. Specialized electric and lighting systems provide the "Burn City" with varying lighting scenarios, and are controlled from the Third Floor Control Tower at the main building. Additionally, simulated fire alarm systems with horns and strobes, and special high-temperature and waterproof light fixtures are in each of the burn buildings.
Mandatory flexibilityThe nature of the entire facility requires extreme flexibility with large groups of students and transient occupancy schedules. According to Richard Romine of the project's mechanical engineer, Romine, Romine & Burgess, Inc., Consulting Engineers, the multizone approach was selected due to its excellent functionality in this regard, with good performance and relative simplicity of operation and maintenance.
"The unusual building architecture offered a particular challenge, in that unshaded east, south, and west glass exposures representing up to 90% of the total wall surface are quite rarely encountered in this geographic area. As a consequence, all glass had to have highly efficient solar resistance, and to be of double-pane construction for winter performance, and even so constituted dominant load factors for many spaces," Romine said. ES