$8M investment for Baytown training facility

 City officials will break ground at 9:30 a.m. today on an $8 million expansion of Baytown’s Fire Training Field, adding training space for the kind of industrial fires that have been in the news in recent months.

The fire training field is located at 7022 Bayway Drive

Assistant Fire Chief Aaron Smith said that, in addition to benefiting training for city firefighters, the facility would also be available for training by the fire departments maintained by local industrial facilities.

This is the third and largest phase for construction of the training field and will have two major elements: a classroom building with offices for training staff and an area with full-size mock-ups of industrial facilities that burn both vapor and liquid propane to give firefighters realistic experience.

Much of the industrial equipment was donated by local industry, and includes an oil storage tank, a distillation tower and a loading rack with a tanker truck on one side and a rail tank car on the other.

There are also large heat exchanger fans and motors to learn to fight fires in those pieces of equipment.

The whole area will have overhead pipe racks, which present obstacles for 

maneuvering equipment in a real fire situation.

Smith said the new part would add to existing facilities, which include a burn house to experience firefighting inside an enclosed space and a six-story tower to practice medical treatment and rescue for construction and industrial settings.

The tower area also has underground drainage pipes and an enclosed metal vessel for training for enclosed space rescues.

Smith said construction for this phase of the training ground expansion would take 450 construction days.

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