DURHAM, N.C. – If residents and visitors see smoke and fire near several abandoned apartment buildings on Duke University’s Central Campus later this week and throughout November, they shouldn’t worry as its part of a series of planned firefighting training exercises.
Beginning Thursday, October 24, the Durham Fire Department will set training fires to several abandoned apartment buildings on Central Campus as part of an agreement with Duke University to conduct firefighting training exercises. The department will set fire to six vacant apartment buildings, located at 1911 Erwin Road, between October 24 and November 27 as part of the agreement. Then, the department will move to the Yearby Avenue portion of Central Campus to set fire to six additional buildings.
“This is a unique opportunity for us to do several training burns,” said Willie Hall, assistant chief of the Durham Fire Department. “Historically, what we get for acquired structures for training are single-family residential buildings. This will give us the opportunity to practice on larger structures with two-to-three floors, different rooflines, common areas, shared attic spaces, and different points of entry. These training burns will afford our firefighters the opportunity to train in acquired structures that simulate real emergency incidents. Firefighters will train in the areas of incident command, hose advancement, ladder evolutions, forcible entry, search-and-rescue techniques, ventilation, and extinguishment just to mention a few.”
Hall said smaller individual training burns only allow a portion of the department to participate, but he hopes to have all 400+ members of the department participate in the training exercises on Duke’s Central Campus.
During the controlled burns, people in the immediate area may see and smell smoke. The distribution of smoke will depend on weather conditions, such as wind and humidity. The Durham Fire Department will be on the scene for the duration of each controlled burn and will take all appropriate safety precautions.
“We have worked with the state to get the necessary permits for the training burns,” Hall said. “Our pre-fire planning includes ensuring sufficient water supply, confirming asbestos remediation, and meeting all regulations for air quality.”
The training exercises on the first few buildings are tentatively scheduled to be conducted based on the schedule below, which could be modified based on weather conditions on the day of the planned exercises:
- October 24-26
- November 14-15
- November 20-23
- November 25-27
During the training exercises, the immediate area will be cordoned off and access to Yearby Avenue will be limited east of Anderson Street for safety. Access along Anderson Street, Alexander Avenue, and Oregon Street should not be impacted during this time.
Media outlets should use the contact information above for questions related to the burns and to arrange for onsite access at this exercise.
About the City of Durham Fire Department
The Durham Fire Department strives to enhance the quality of life for the residents and visitors of Durham by minimizing the harmful effects of fires, medical emergencies, and other types of dangerous events. Guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, the department helps create a safer community by conducting fire and life safety education programs; providing emergency responses to fires, medical calls, hazardous materials spills, technical rescue calls, and water rescue calls; explaining and enforcing the fire code; investigating arson and the cause of other fires; and maintaining readiness through constant training and maintenance of facilities and equipment. To learn more follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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