Firefighters in Newport News welcome new fire training laboratory

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Fire training on the peninsula is all about preparing firefighters for a flashover fire.

For years, Virginia Beach was the only locality that had a flashover laboratory. But thanks to a grant, the Newport News Fire Department (NNFD) has one that they’ve quickly put to use.

“In the past, most of the training in terms of a live fire, came from videos and classrooms. Now we’re able to see it in what I would say is live and in living color,” said NNFD Assistant Chief Robert Craft, who oversees training.

“This allows all that firefighters theory, to really come to life in front of their eyes,” said NNFD Battalion Chief Stephen Pincus. “How do we predict when it’s going to happen, because when it does happen the entire conditions change.”

There’s only so much you can absorb in a classroom setting about something that could have life-changing consequences. Pincus and Craft say the new laboratory is one of the most important tools they have now.

“The burn chamber represents a room where all the students learn. We have one instructor in the front, two in the back, one working each door. The fire is just waiting for the air injection. When everything in the room heats up to ignition temperature it lights off all at the same time. In the burn chamber when a flash happens it’s upwards of 1500 degrees,” Craft said has he walked through room.

Pincus continued, “By going through this training not only do we see flashover but we recognize the signs leading up to it and how to mitigate it. We want to make sure the citizens know we’re doing everything we can do, what they expect us to do and that were going to be there for them when they call 911.”

The more they know about what they’re walking into, the better the outcome for you and them.

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