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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Firefighters train in flashover conditions

  • Pike County firefighters received training in recognizing conditions leading up to a deadly flashover fire at the Pike County Training Facility in Lords Valley the weekend of November 9-10.
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  • Pike County firefighters received training in recognizing conditions leading up to a deadly flashover fire at the Pike County Training Facility in Lords Valley the weekend of November 9-10.
    In a flashover, the temperature becomes so hot, around 1,200 degrees, that all combustible items in the room burst into flame at once.
    At this temperature, protective gear breaks down and the fire is not survivable.
    Firefighters must be able to read smoke conditions leading up to a flashover, and leave a building before it occurs.
    The Pike County Training Facility has one of the few flashover simulators in the state said Facility Director George Beodeker.
    For the first time, Saturday and Sunday, instructors from the Lewistown-based Pennsylvania State Fire Academy offered flashover training outside of its own facility.
    The flashover simulator looks like a metal storage container.
    Inside, the floor is made of concrete tiles. There is a platform where particle board is chained to the walls and ceiling.
    A metal barrel stuffed with wood is placed in the center of the platform. Trainers burn this wood in the enclosed container, vented just enough to fuel the fire.
    Firefighters wearing oxygen masks observe conditions while sitting on the floor lower than the fire platform where the heat is less intense.
    If they were to stand up, they would not be able to tolerate the heat.
    The walls inside the container are smooth from the floor up to a line of bumps.
    High heat from prior training sessions has caused the bumps on the upper part of the walls, proving that staying low to the ground in a fire is a life-saving strategy.
    Firefighter and EMT Jim Kuzmak of Lackawanna described the heavy smoke in the simulator prior to flashover as turbulent and alive, causing zero visibility.
    Teaching flashover scenarios has to be hands-on, Kuzmak said. "This is realism in a controlled environment," he said.
    After the lesson was over, firefighters staggered out of the container, affected by the heat, while the container continued to smoke heavily.
    "It's something that you never want to see in real life," said Milford firefighter Matt Adames. "It will actually take your breath away."

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