BPS fire training facility set to serve multiple SW GA counties

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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Anyone who has passed by the former site of John Johnson Elementary School, now the Bainbridge Public Safety Training Facility, will have noticed the towering six-story building of shipping containers adjacent to it. This new facility serves as a fire training facility for not only Bainbridge Public Safety, but will serve countless fire departments across southwest Georgia.

According to BPS fire chief Doyle Welch, the idea for the training facility came while on a trip to Warner Robins roughly three years ago. “We went to Warner Robins and saw their tower, talked to their fire chief up there and their training instructors,” he said. When considering different models for a facility, multiple aspects drew them to the Warner Robins model. One was that it was set-up for ladder training; the training facility features a mock 5-story elevator shaft inside, complete with a ladder, platform and access door. “Due to the grain bins we have here, we’ve never had anything we could work off of in a safe manner, as far as letting someone climb,” Welch said. Illinois-based American Fire Training Systems was in charge of the facility’s construction.

“But also, it just fit us better,” he continued. With multiple stories, the facility will allow for repelling training, as well as practice for responding to fires in different styles of environments; the first two stories are styled after residential housing, while the third floor is modeled more after a business. Aside from the elevator shaft, there are additional features to simulate fighting fires in locations like hotels. One of these is a standpipe system, which allows firemen to attach their hoses to the pipe on the necessary floor and pump water, rather than having to pull the hose length up from the ground floor. “The standpipe system goes up to the third floor, so the first, second and third floor, there are actually outlets there, so the firefighter can simulate hooking up to the FDIC connection outside the building,” Welch explained. “The water will come through the standpipe up to the third floor, they can actually attach the hose inside that enclosed staircase.”

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The facility is equipped with smoke machines, both internal and external staircases, an attic prop, both breachable walls and walls capable of being repositioned, and of course, multiple burn rooms, where actual fires will be simulated for trainees. These burn rooms will be equipped with sensors to monitor the room’s temperature, in order to prevent a fire from getting too hot and risking structural damage to the facility.

“This is going to be used for training for 23 counties in southwest Georgia,” Welch said. The facility will provide Georgia Fire Academy training, something which local residents previously had to travel to Forsyth to receive.

“This is a great asset to the city of Bainbridge, and the Bainbridge Public Safety Department is grateful for everything the city has done to provide this building,” Welch concluded.