“The Training Center has been in use for more than 16 years now and has seen its share of wear and tear from the thousands of volunteer emergency responders that train there,” said Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “We are moving ahead with plans to improve the burn building, used to simulate fires and our burn box which is used to train for flashover fires.
“These improvements will provide for a better and safer training experience for our responders and the instructors,” Kelly said.
The upgrades to the two-story 900 square foot burn building include replacing the computer control system and PC with the most updated windows operating system and software and providing the lead instructor with a hand held PC tablet allowing for better monitoring from the drill grounds.
In addition, the improvements will provide a fully integrated sound system in each of the burn rooms which will allow instructors to play real life sounds into the training such as smoke detectors sounding, saws running, victims calling for help, wood breaking indicating possible collapse potential or windows breaking.
The installation of an electrical panel simulator, will allow instructors to have students encounter an actual electrical panel that arcs and smokes so that students can make real life decisions based on visual and audio cues.
Also, the aging gas detection devices will be replaced in all three burn rooms with newer models to increase reliability.
And, new vent fans will be added to the building to allow better smoke layering in the burn rooms. An aqua mesh system will be added to all three burn rooms allowing the fire to burn more evenly on the mock ups providing greater heat to be generated in the rooms making the training more realistic.
“Providing state of the art facilities and equipment to our students and instructors is imperative,” said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “While numerous agencies train at our training center facilities we know the majority are volunteers. It is vital we provide them with the best training tools possible.”
Upgrades to the flashover structure include replacing the burn chamber of the existing flashover simulator. Because of age and use, the current burn chamber is showing signs of deterioration and warping of the metal due to the high heat that is generated during training.
“We expect the new chamber will last about seven to 10 years based on the current course load,” Kelly said. “While the firefighters are taught the signs and symptoms of flashover in a classroom based lecture, the flashover simulator allows them to experience actual flashover conditions in a much safer environment.
“This training allows a firefighter to see what will happen before and during a flashover so that they can recognize the danger and react before it happens in real life,” Kelly said.
Meanwhile, construction continues on the expansion of the center to provide more classroom space to train volunteer emergency responders and law and public safety students.
“The Training Center, which is home to the county’s fire and first aid academies, opened its doors in September 1998,” Kelly said. “Since that time countless numbers of community-spirited volunteers use the facility each and every day in order to learn new skills or hone those they have already been taught.
“From firefighters to emergency medical technicians, from law enforcement to Ocean County Vocational-Technical students, the center provides a top-notch learning experience for all of the men and women who give so much back to this great County,” Kelly said.
In order to meet the growing class sizes and the needs of the diverse groups using the center, the County is building a four classroom addition providing more than 4,100 square feet of new space.
“The new space can accommodate up to 120 students,” Kelly said. “And, the space can be separated by motorized partitions to create smaller or larger areas based on the activities being conducted.”
While thousands of emergency response volunteers have been trained at the facility, in recent years it has also become the center for the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools Law and Public Safety Program.
“This Training Center has been well-used by our volunteers and our vo-tech students,” said Vicari, who serves as liaison to the county’s vocational technical school system. “The vo-tech program has successfully trained many young men and women who want to pursue law enforcement careers.
“The training center also provides firefighters and emergency medical technicians with the important tools they need to serve their communities,” Vicari said.