Current Projects

Tulsa Fire Department Live Fire Training Structure
Tulsa Fire Department Training Center and Homeland Security Building -- This is a new five-story live fire training structure in the process of being lined throughout with System 203.


Orange County New York Live Fire Training Structure
Orange County Department of Public Works, Goshen NY - This 1700 sq ft building features three stories, includes 13 burn rooms and can simulate a variety of fires, including attic and basement fires. Located at the Fire Training Center in New Hampton, it has a 30 year life span.

Burn Rooms Live Fire Training

Dear Chief Training Officer:
Bill Glover, President of High Temperature Linings, has been sitting on the NFPA Technical Committee on Fire Service Training for ten years. In his work with the committee, and in his participation as a member of design/construction teams on over one hundred new live fire training structures (burn buildings), he recognized that many in the fire service were using NFPA 1403, Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions, as a stand-alone Standard Operating Procedure.  In fact, NFPA 1403 is a broad standard that addresses many types of training, and different types of fire training structures and/or fire training props.  It is imperative that Standard Operating Procedures be developed by each fire training center that applies NFPA 1403 to the particular structure, and to each burn room within the structure, that is being used by the fire department.
Further, it is apparent that most fire training academies are exercising too little control of fuel loads and numbers of evolutions conducted in permanent fire training towers, and that many in the fire service do not have an appreciation for the critical nature of the radiant energy that is developed as multiple successive fire evolutions are conducted.  Many in the fire service believe that the installation of a permanent temperature monitoring system in the burn building allows training officers complete control in maintaining safe training environments.  However, it is important to understand that a relative rise in temperature does not equate to the same relative increase in radiant energy produced.  In fact, as temperatures increase, and as successive fires are conducted, the amount of radiant energy increases exponentially.  To date, there is not an effective means of measuring the radiant energy produced in a live fire training structure.  Further, permanently installed temperature monitoring systems are only relatively accurate in reporting actual gas temperatures that exist in different parts of a burn room.
Consequently, the NPFA Technical Committee on Fire Service Training has included language in the 2012 edition of NFPA 1403 that addresses this issue.  The new standard requires that “burn sequence charts” be developed to define fuel loads and numbers of evolutions that can be safely conducted in each burn room of the live fire training structure.  The standard includes the following language:
7.3.1 The AHJ shall develop and utilize a safe live fire training action plan when multiple sequential burn evolutions are to be conducted per day in each burn room.
7.3.2 A burn sequence matrix chart shall be developed for the burn rooms in a live fire training structure. The burn sequence matrix chart shall include the maximum fuel loading per evolution and maximum number of sequential live fire evolutions that can be conducted per day in each burn room.
7.3.3* The burn sequence for each room shall define the maximum fuel load that can be used for the first burn and each successive burn.
7.3.4* The burn sequence matrix for each room shall also specify the maximum number of evolutions that can be safely conducted during a given training period before the room is allowed to cool.
7.3.5 The fuel loads per evolution and the maximum number of sequential evolutions in each burn room shall not be exceeded under any circumstances.
High Temperature Linings encourages our customers to immediately take a pro-active role by taking the following steps:
1.     Understand the difference between temperature and radiant energy.
2.     Understand that you can create environments in permanent live fire training structures that are a threat to your turn out gear and your safety.  Remember, a permanent live fire training structure is designed to withstand thousands of live fire training evolutions without seriously affecting the integrity of the structure.  Consequently, if you are not planning and controlling your evolutions, the environments created could be worse than those encountered in actual structure fires.  Quite simply, many structures would collapse under the same conditions.
3.     Develop Standard Operating Procedures that apply NFPA 1403 to the particular structure that you use for your fire training.  We are attaching a sample of what that SOP might look like.  Of course, you must develop SOPs that apply to your specific structure.  The attachment is intended to simply offer ideas.
We hope this information is useful to you, and we strongly encourage you to contact us with comments and/or recommendations.
Thanks, and please be safe!

Users of Temperature Monitoring Systems

We wish to advise you of an issue relating to temperature monitoring systems installed in live fire training structures. 
Many temperature monitoring systems have been installed over the years in an attempt to provide the fire service with accurate information as to the temperatures being generated in burn rooms.  This information is important to the training officer to understand the following: 
a) The highest temperature in the room as measured by the thermocouple that is mounted on the ceiling. 
b) The temperature at a level of approximately 24-30 inches off the floor to measure the temperature encountered by firefighters crawling into the room. 
c) The temperature between the protective linings and the concrete structure to monitor the performance of the lining system over a long period of time. 
We have learned over the years that thermocouples mounted to the wall and ceiling surfaces  read a temperature that is tempered by the mass of the wall or ceiling.   In other words,  the wall and ceiling surface temperatures are going to be lower than the air temperature that is trying to heat up the mass of the wall or ceiling.  Imagine putting lasagna in an oven set at 350 degrees.  The lasagna may take an hour to heat up to the air temperature of the oven.  This is the same phenomenon experienced in burn rooms.  
The walls and ceilings are mass that is absorbing heat similar to the lasagna.  We have measured wall and air temperatures that vary by as much as 70-100%. E.g... air temperature of 368 degrees and wall temperature of 230 degrees. Therefore, during the first several evolutions of a training day the thermocouple will report temperatures that are considerably lower than the temperature of the air.  Then, for a while,  the thermocouple will report temperatures that are closer to the actual air temperature.  However,  as the day wears on, the thermocouple will actually begin to report temperatures that are higher than the air temperature.  This is the result of cooling the air temperatures with bursts of water while the mass of the wall is storing the extraordinary heat generated in the room during the day of training. 
We have consulted with various experts in the field of temperature monitoring and have concluded, at least for the moment, that there is nothing we can do to improve this situation.  We are dealing with the laws of nature.  The only way to provide more accurate readings would be to dangle thermocouples in the air throughout the room.  
This is impractical in a training environment. We still believe the temperature monitoring system is a tool that provides a relative measure of what is occurring in a burn room.  However, it is important to understand, particularly with the thermocouple that is mounted near the floor, that the temperature reported by the temperature monitoring system are inaccurate relative to air temperature and should not be used to measure "safe" air temperatures.  Should you still elect to install a thermocouple at this elevation, we very strongly recommend that training officers be repeatedly and firmly advised that such monitoring offers only a "relative" measure of the heat in the room and that such information may be very inaccurate.  Install placards on the exterior of all training structures with temperature monitoring systems stating something like this: "Temperature readings displayed and recorded by the temperature monitoring system recorder may be considerably lower than actual air (gas) temperatures. Do not use the temperature monitoring system to determine safe fire loadings.  Use only standard operating procedures.  The same placard should be installed on the temperature recorder panel housing." 
We encourage all training divisions to rely on PASS devices mounted to the firefighter to ensure the firefighter is not exposed to extreme temperatures.  We understand these are available with rate of rise measuring capabilities, but do not know of one that measures a set temperature as adjusted by the user.  If you know of one, please let us know. Finally,  the thermocouple that is installed between the protective lining system and the concrete structure is measuring the amount of heat that slowly soaks into the structure.  This is accurate.  This thermocouple is not affected by thermal imbalance that occurs in the confines of the burn room.  This concealed thermocouple is an important component of your system.
Please make sure all personnel using your facility are made aware of this condition. We realize this is an undesirable situation and are still looking for a better way to provide accurate data to the training officer.  Your comments, questions and suggestions would be appreciated. 

Burn Building Maintenance

It is important to understand that we recommend that you replace missing bolt hole plugs  in the live fire lining system every three months for your burn building structure.  However, it is not a problem to continue training as you lose plugs during the three month period.  The plugs  seal the bolt hole and  restrain the nuts  from “backing off”. As long as maintenance is performed on a regular basis, we find that the materials and labor required is very minimal.  
Finally, in addition to daily inspections required per your SOP, we encourage you to inspect your burn building each time you perform tile maintenance.  You should look for any cracks that might develop in the concrete structure and pay particular attention to the condition of the door and window shutters.  Cracks in the concrete structure can allow water to  seep into the insulation behind  the linings, which can cause severe problems in freezing weather.  This has not been a problem on structures that are designed with the concrete frame  promoted by HTL, but has been an issue on some of the older refurbished structures.  Any cracks found behind our linings must be repaired as soon as practical.
Doors and windows that might become loose present a particular safety issue for obvious reasons and require immediate repair and/or replacement. Check them on a regular basis to ensure anchors are tight and that shutters and latches swing and operate properly. If your structure includes a temperature monitoring system, expect thermocouples to require periodic replacement.   You should keep a number of spare thermocouples on hand.  If you have a temperature recorder (like a Yokogawa or Honeywell unit), the digital display will  show a series of asterisks, or an artificially high or low temperature when a thermocouple requires replacement.  See maintenance instructions for your particular system. 
We hope this information is useful to you.  HTL is committed to providing the safest training environments possible.  We believe this information, and the attached documentation helps us all to  achieve that goal.

Live Fire Training Recommendations

New structures or refurbished structures with new concrete block walls should be allowed to cure for two months before you start burning.  The idea is to allow the concrete and concrete block walls to dry out as much as practically possible before you burn.  High temperatures associated with burning will draw the water out of the mortar joints and concrete.  If too much water is still present, concrete can literally explode as the water turns to steam, creating pressures that are greater than the tensile strength of the concrete.  Further, as water is drawn out of the  block mortar joints, the mortar will lose its’ bond with the  block. This will eventually occur regardless of how long you wait before burning.  In time, the mortar will dry out and crack away from the concrete block in the hottest burn areas.
We have a pre-burn procedure that should be followed after replacing a significant number of fire tile plugs.  Burning pallets, allowing them to burn out without extinguishment, develops some heat to allow the bolt hole plugs to harden before you hit them hose streams.

Commissioning New or Refurbished Burn Building

High Temperature Linings would like to offer some basic advice regarding your use of your new or refurbished burn building. Keep in mind that we are not fire training officers. We are not even fire fighters. However, we have been assisting fire training divisions in designing, protectingand repairing live fire training structures for over fifteen years, and have completed work on nearly two hundred training structures. Further, Bill Glover, President of our company, has served on the NFPA Technical Training Committee on Fire Service Training since 2002. We believe our experience offers a unique insight into the use of the facilities that we protect and compels us to make the suggestions. We will start posting our findings often on this blog.