Updated: Controlled burn helps train firefighters

Photo Credit: Donnie La Curan

Updated: Raw video from the controlled burn.

Firefighters from all across Southwest Georgia were in Albany Wednesday for a training class, but they weren't there to fight fires, they were there to learn.

Albany Fire Investigator Sam Harris helped construct two walls in their training building for a regional class. "We did one wall that was two layers of type "X" 5/8' sheet rock which gave a one hour rating and the other wall was a 1/2' sheet rock wall," says Harris.

The walls were then set on fire for 32 minutes. Firefighters built one wall like a normal constructed wall, however the other wall was built with fire resistant materials. "In buildings sometimes, you'll have a fire wall that separates two businesses from each other and we wanted to demonstrate how you can be secure and can cut off a fire by using those means," says Harris.

Captain Zane Newman traveled from Americus for the demonstration. He says he's seen the use of fire resistant materials, just not in this setting. "I've seen them under fire conditions but I've never seen a test like this one set up," says Newman.

The two walls burnt completely differently and officials say that's why they held the demonstration; so that the firefighters could see the differences in damage. "The one with fire stops, even with the half inch sheet rock, it stayed intact; whereas the balloon construction it ran into the roof right away within 18 minutes of setting the fire," says Harris.

Newman says this unique demonstration can teach firefighters a lot of different things. "You know whether or not the wall was built right or you can tell whether or not it was designed right or how the fire was put out or what material was in it you can learn a lot of things, and during inspections it helps to make sure you've got the right stuff put in there," says Newman.

Firefighters say the demonstration went well. The Albany Fire Department is hoping to do more regional training classes in the future.

And while Newman was learning about fires Wednesday, Tuesday night he was recognized for his work as a fire inspector and named Georgia's Fire Inspector of the Year. The Georgia Fire Inspector Association awarded Newman a plaque and accommodation by Governor Deal. Newman has worked for the Americus Fire Department since 1980. And while he is thankful for the recognition, he says he was just doing his job. "I don't like all the attention people are giving me. It's just a job and I try to do it right," says Newman.

Newman was nominated and elected by his peers.


The Albany Fire Department held a controlled burn at their training center Tuesday morning. Firefighters constructed and burnt two walls; one was a regular construction wall found in a home, the other was a fire wall.

The training is meant to help firefighters when it comes to testing fire stop methods. AFD Investigator Sam Harris says this is a great way to train firefighters from around Southwest Georgia. "We're going to use that data that we collect to help train the people from this region in how these fires operate, how long you have, and how you can use that to determine whether or not it's safe to go into a structure," says Harris.

A class portion of the training is Wednesday. Firefighters will examine burn differences between the two walls.