A state-of-the-art fire department training facility now sits off of Commercial Way in East Providence.
“It incorporates everything we need,” said East Providence Fire Capt. John Kelahan, who directs the training and safety division. “Anything we do daily we can do there.”
Acting Fire Chief Oscar Elmasian put it another way.
“Whatever you can imagine,” he said. “A user can get the feel and actual conditions of a fire.”
An "Assistance to Firefighters Grant" from the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid for most of the $404,000 facility, which resembles steel cargo containers or trailers stacked on top of each other with steel staircases at one end and a slim alley between them. The city had to come up with a 10 percent match, or about $40,400.
The training facility can be powered by wood and paper or propane. Its multiple compartments can simulate all types of fire incidents in a safe and controlled environment all-year round, said Kelahan.
“Heat, smoke, ventilation,” he said. “It has it all. And the key to using this type of facility is safety.”
Firefighters had to train previously on abandoned buildings that were ready for demolition. There really were no other structures, Kelahan said.
New trainees up to advanced firefighters can be taught at the facility. The department’s hazardous materials (HAZMAT) and technical rescue teams also can simulate confined-space and other emergency situations, Kelahan said.
The department’s 20 instructors first must go through 8 hours of training in how to use the facility by the firm that sold the facility to East Providence – Fire Training Structures of Phoenix, Ariz. Most of it was pre-constructed in Arizona and then shipped cross-country, where it was assembled behind the Department of Public Works facility.
“This is two years in the making,” said Kelahan of the department’s push to get the facility. It should be put into use for the first time in March.