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Firefighters gather in Adams for flashover fire training

Updated: May. 2, 2021 at 9:48 PM EDT
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ADAMS, N.Y. (WWNY) -On the inside, it looks like an out of control house fire. But it is a controlled environment inside of a steel box. It’s called a flashover simulator, a common, yet intense training exercise for firefighters.

“This is one of those things that will kill you in a fire. There’s no surviving a flashover, so we want to show them what preempts that, so they can see the signs of when that’s going to occur and they can prevent it from happening by opening a hose line or by getting out of the space,” said Bruce Heberer, CEO of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs.

Heberer says a flashover is when the temperature increases so fast, that everything in the room catches fire at once, almost like an explosion.

The training was hosted by Adams Fire Department, but firefighters from all over joined in.

How it works? Each firefighter puts on full protective gear, then gets it checked before heading into the lower section of the steel box.

“When he shuts that door, what’s gonna happen to the fire that’s right here, rolling over?” said Sam Usborne, Deputy Fire Chief and Instructor from Cazenovia, “It’s gonna go right back. Right?”

Then a fire is set in the upper section of the box, which is covered in plywood, and the doors are closed. Firefighters are challenged to stay in the lower section of the box for 20 to 30 minutes but can leave if necessary.

In the lower section where the students are, temperatures are only 200 to 300 degrees. But in the upper section where the fire is actually burning, temperatures can reach upwards of 1500 degrees.

“You can feel your legs start burning, around your shoulders will start burning. You’re not actually burning, but it’s hotter than what could really happen,” said Austin Kellogg.

Adams firefighter Austin Kellogg says he has completed this exercise four times and calls it one of the best training methods out there, because like many instructors and firefighters here, he says this is what could happen in a worst case scenario.

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