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Assistance Firefighters Grants Success Stories Berrien County Michigan

This page highlights how Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) funded burn trailer was used in Berrien County, Michigan to train firefighters. This page is intended for fire departments and nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Service organizations (EMS).

AFG Grant Provides Sustainable Resources for Training Efforts in Berrien County

Temperatures reaching nearly 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Light weight construction. Major structure fires. These are not ideal conditions for a firefighter to practice in.  

After one of their firefighters experienced a major fire for the first time in his three-year career, Berrien Springs Oronoko Fire Department realized that many of its firefighters- and the firefighters in the rest of Berrien County, had little to no experience dealing with these dangerous conditions. They knew that they needed to change this, but did not have the funds necessary to do this- even when the entire county pooled its resources. So, they turned to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program for help. 

They requested a movable live-fire burn structure capable of meeting Firefighter I & II requirements for structural firefighting. This included fire behavior, vertical/horizontal ventilation, search and rescue, and interior/exterior attack utilizing direct and indirect attacks. The unit would also provide live training in flashover/backdraft recognition, below grade fire attacks, confined space, SCBA use, forcible entry, self-rescue and more. 

Berrien County looked to AFG as a way to provide critical, practical experience for their firefighters. Without AFG, they could not have purchased a KIDDE live burn 53 foot trailer with three propane fire props. This unit has everything they need to simulate fires up to 800 degrees. It has a second story, a roof prop for vertical ventilation experience, stand pipes and sprinklers for training. The second part of the unit has smoke generating capabilities and three rooms with residential furniture. Firefighters can enter a smoke filled hot residential setting, search for victims and then move into the second unit to attack the fire- all while in a controlled environment. The 53-foot-long trailer is easily pulled by a semi-tractor, meaning training can be located at any of the counties fire stations. 

The county now reflects on the success of the program, saying that since implanting the training, every single firefighter in Berrien County has returned safely from every call. Chiefs have also found that there is a significant difference in the actions and attitudes of those who have trained in the trailers. The experience and lessons have given them the confidence they need to fight fires on a larger scale. Without the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, this would not have been possible.

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Last Updated: 
10/23/2019 - 09:27