Summit Cove Rec Center to burn repeatedly for week of training |

Summit Cove Rec Center to burn repeatedly for week of training

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Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COVE – Folks needn’t be alarmed next week when a smoke and flames are visible at the abandoned Summit Cove Recreation Center – it’s just the local firefighters running training exercises.

The county’s three fire agencies are working together Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the structure, where they’ll be searching for victims in a basement-scenario situation.

Heat and smoke will billow up a staircase as the crews descend into an area of zero visibility.

Objectives include putting out the fire and searching for dummies posed as victims. Some firefighters will feel along the walls for victims as others hold onto their feet and feel for victims near the center of the room.

The entire structure is to burn either Dec. 21 or Dec. 22, depending on weather conditions.

Kim Scott with Red, White and Blue Fire District said such exercises normally occur every other year; the last one was at a single-family home in Frisco.

She said they’re rarely done at the basement level.

RWB battalion chief Herb George – with the Summit Fire Authority, which plans the exercises – said about one live burn occurs about each quarter of the year, but they’re usually at the training facility near the county commons in Frisco.

The more frequent ones also use propane to create the fire conditions; next week’s exercise will involve the burning of wet hay and wooden pallets.

George said that in the past, training exercises included live firefighters in place of dummies – but the rules have changed to keep people safer.

A back-up crew this week will be in a vacant room of the structure as it burns, in case anything goes wrong for the crews involved with the exercise.

The walls are being lined with fire-resistant double drywall, and a thermal imaging camera will be used so firefighters can be ordered out if it appears the ceiling is about to collapse.

RWB Captain Eric Johnson said the heat in a real basement fire would likely be three to four times greater than what firefighters encounter during the training exercise.

George said there’s a back-up water supply, and two nearby fire hydrants will be used.

He said fires these days are more dangerous than 20 to 30 years ago because of the lightweight construction and plastics used in later buildings.

“They’re more deadly now than they ever were,” he said.

The firefighters on Tuesday and Thursday will be at the building doing roof work and wall breaches for further training.

“We’re going to get the most out of it that we can,” said RWB captain Chris Sutton.

The Copper Mountain Consolidated Metropolitan District and Lake Dillon Fire Protection District are also involved in the exercises.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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