ESEC Seeks Sponsors, Partners

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High school students demonstrate their skillls fighting car fires.

Photo by David Dale

(posted Apr 20)

Actions spoke louder than words on April 19 when Area 31 High School Seniors and their Instructor Gene Konzen extinguished live simulated car and building fires to demonstrate the quality training and facilities they have at the  Emergency Services Education Center.  The demonstration was performed in front of Mayor Greg Ballard and City County Councilors Janice McHenry, Cherrish Pryor, Ryan Vaughn, Ginny Cainand  and Robert Lutz.

Terry Thompson, Superintendent of the Wayne Township Metropolitan School District, explained the school has now owned the former Wayne Township Fire Department facilities and grounds along High School Road for a little over a year. He said the school is looking to partner and find sponsors to help fund the ESEC's operations. Thompson said goal is to continue former Wayne Township trustee Gene Stouffer's legacy to have a premier fire training center. The center offers training programs ranging from HazMat, trench rescue, rope rescue, confined space, and car extrication. The facility recently hosted the 2008 Fire Department Instructors Certification conference where fire instructors across the country lauded the facilities.

ESEC Programs Coordinator Steve Cavaleri explained he is some what perplexed that local fire departments do not use the facility. "There is a lot free time," he said, referring to the facilities not being used.

He granted that it can be expensive. It is roughly $600 for four hours of training to use the seven story live fire simulator, but the fee helps offset the cost of the natural gas used to supply the fire and mineral oil to create smoke. A 55 gallon drum of mineral oil costs $1,500.

He said that many departments are moving away from acquiring homes to burn for safety training skills because inspections are needed to burn the house. He also noted the home becomes unsafe after the burn. A house cannot have repetitive fires like the seven story concrete exterior building. The building can reach 750 degrees before the gas is shut off and the vents come on. The flashover chamber can reach 1,000 degrees. The facility sends the flash over the firemen's head for safety purposes, but still teaches flash point awareness.

Cavaleri described the perils of flash point. Flash point is common in fires where the temperature becomes so hot that everything ignites at once. It is very dangerous because firemen can become totally engulfed in flames and their lives are quickly in jeopardy because the protective gear can not handle the extreme conditions. Part of the training is to observe the warning signs. The temperature will climb by hundreds of degrees, the smoke becomes jet black and the room becomes pressurized. An increase in temperature will always mark the brink of a flash point.

Cavaleri said that his fire training course helped some ATA flight attendants extinguish a fire in a hotel kitchen in China. Everyone else panicked and ran but the flight attendants remained calm and were able to extinguish the fire.

State Representative Phil Hinkle said "the ESEC plays an extremely important role in the community."

Former Speedway Public Schools Superintendent Andy Wagoner joined the ESEC staff to assist with marketing the conference center. The center can be rented for weddings, receptions, corporate meetings, and church services. He said they have contracted with Malone's Catering to provide exclusive catering service to accommodate clients renting the conference room. These sources of funds will help with building capital improvements. The seven story building was built in 1979 and has some maintenance issues.

Fire Science Safety courses are offered through the Area 31 vocational program that is comprised of ten local schools to serve students.

Area 31 Senior Corey Dubois said the class has done the live fire simulation before but each repetition is still a new learning experience to improve teamwork and communication. Dubois credited his father's firefighting career in Minnesota as the inspiration for him to choose the profession.

Area 31 Senior John Hill decided to pursue firefighting from his experience as an Avon Rescue Explorer. For three and half years, Hill has been riding on ambulance runs to shadow EMS workers to acquire training skills.

Mayor Ballard said that ESEC would make a good partner, but nothing was finalized at this point. He said there were some bureaucratic matters that needed to be worked through.

Clyde Pfisterer explained that the Indianapolis Fire Department had a facility in Warren Township, but a previous Mayor thought it could be better utilized by the police. Pfisterer, a retired IFD chief, travels internationally to teach high rise fire safety courses.