LIVE BURN – Is this burn training safe for the environment?
Permits have been applied for and approved by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and proper notification has been given to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Hazardous substances such as asbestos, mercury, and other listed substances were removed from the properties after a thorough inspection by licensed contractors in accordance with MPCA rules. The burned remains will be deposited in the Clay County Sanitary Landfill, a lined landfill also in accordance with MPCA regulations for burned materials.
LIVE BURN – What exactly will you be doing and when that might affect me?
Wednesday evening, September 28th will have the greatest impact potential. Our crews and Fire Technology students from M|State will begin arriving on-site at about 5:00 pm. We will take quite a bit of time setting up for the final burn training. We will be building controlled ignition stations with straw and wood pallets. We will be laying out fire hoses, barricading off streets, and setting up the detour on 11th St N. We plan to begin the actual fire training at about 6:00 pm, but this will vary based on the amount of prep time needed. We want all preparation to be complete before we begin.
Once ready we will ignite our first house. Keep in mind that two days of interior fire training will have already occurred by this point. This last phase of training will be to complete a fill burn down of the structures. The full burn down may take up to an hour for each of the homes. The second home will be ignited when the fire in the first home has burned down to a safe level that no longer requires constant attention from our crews. This will continue until all four homes have burned.
Our crews may remain on-site for several hours while the fires smolder in the basements. 11th St N will reopen when conditions are no longer distracting. The basements may continue to smolder for a couple of days before the remains are removed to an approved landfill.
LIVE BURN – Isn’t there an alternative way of conducting this training that won’t impact the neighborhood?
In the case of fire investigation training, there is no substitute for conducting experimental and experiential training in conditions fire investigators will find when working back in their jurisdictions. The Clay County Courthouse Campus Expansion project provides us with a very rare opportunity. There are no homes immediately adjacent to the building we are burning in. There is a full block of buffer in all directions, and in some directions, several blocks before home are impacted. This is about the lowest possible level of impact we can envision in a developed city. These conditions cannot be simulated in classrooms or laboratories without great expense. The training is so valuable, that fire investigators are attending from across Minnesota and North Dakota.
LIVE BURN – What should I do if I see something I think is unsafe during the live burns?
If you are able to attract the attention of one of our fire department members during the training, feel free to communicate your concern. If you cannot, or you feel it is not safe to do so, please call 911. We would prefer to check out a hundred safety concerns that are actually safe upon investigation that have one safety problem cause an injury or property loss because someone felt they maybe shouldn’t call 911.
LIVE BURN – Why are firefighters wearing different kinds of clothing?
The Moorhead Fire Department is also working with students of the fire technology program at Minnesota State Community and Technical College to provide them practical fire fighting experience during this training. They wear many different kinds of fire fighting clothing donated from many area departments.
LIVE BURN – Are spectators allowed to watch during the live burns?
Yes. Visitors are allowed to watch during the live burns. We are asking all visitors to stay on the South of 9th Ave N. The parking lot of the Courthouse and the sidewalks along the south side of 9th Ave N might be natural places to watch. There are no good places to simply park your vehicle and watch from inside a car.
LIVE BURN – Why is 11th St N being closed?
We are burning four homes on Wednesday, September 27th, 2016 beginning at or after 5:00 pm. Safety is a primary consideration for us. The burns will be spectacular at times and will be very distracting for drivers. When the home at 1120 9th Ave N is burned, smoke conditions may also cause hazardous travel. We expect to detour traffic from about 6:00 pm until about 10:00 pm.
LIVE BURN - Should I be concerned about hazardous substances in the smoke?
Our personnel wear Self Contained Breathing Apparatus when they fight fires inside of structures because of highly concentrated smoke that contains some toxic materials and does not contain adequate oxygen to breathe. Firefighters that operate outside of, but within about 50 feet of burning structures also wear breathing protection because of the concentrated materials in the smoke. Beyond that distance, our staff tends to operate without breathing protection as the smoke is dissipated by mixing with outdoor air and lifting higher into the atmosphere due to the heat contained in the smoke. The basic rule is the closer to the fire you are, the more hazardous the smoke is.
LIVE BURN - What do I need to do if there are smoke odors in my neighborhood?
If there are odors of smoke in your neighborhood that you find objectionable, you should first close your windows and doors. You may also want to consider temporarily shutting down your Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning system to avoid drawing outside air into your home until the smoke odors have cleared.