Are you prepared for an NFPA 1403 burn?

The best part of the fire academy is ‘live burn day’. All the recruits are taken out to a home in the community, it is prepped for burning, and then ignited.  This allows for a realistic firefighting scenario. However, one cannot just get a house and burn it.  There are many steps and much documentation to be completed to ensure that these burns are conducted legally and in a safe manner.  NFPA 1403 is the standard for live burns, and outlines the requirements for the use of live fire in acquired structures.  Though these provide great opportunities for training, a considerable amount of work must be done ahead of time. This post provides a brief overview of the documentation, personnel, site prep, and burn day requirements. This is not exhaustive and should only be used as a guide. NFPA 1403 should be consulted prior to any live fire training.

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  • Contracts for outside instructors, building preparation personnel, or general contractors.
  • Students to be certified to FF1 level.
  • PPE/Gear to be in good condition, documentation of inspection.
  • Pre-burn plan - to include evacuation plan, water supply calculations, and fuel load calculations.
  • Jurisdictional permits required.
  • Ownership determination, release, and property transfer.
    • Clear title
    • Written permission to burn
    • Anticipated condition of structure at end of burn
    • Method of property return to owner
    • Proof of insurance cancellation/statement
  • Post-training critique and final report.

  • Minimum of (7) certified live fire training instructors.
    • Instructor-in-charge (IIC)
    • Safety Officer
    • (1) instructor per functional crew
    • (1) instructor per backup line
    • (1) instructor per functional assignment
    • (1) ignition officer - fire control team
    • (1) ignition observer/assistant - fire control team
  • Pump operator(s).
  • Rehab area staffing.
  • BLS medical personnel and transport unit.
  • Rapid intervention crew/team.

Site Prep
  • Determine suitability of building for live fire training use.
  • Prepare building for burning (make repairs, cover holes, remove hazards, etc.).
  • Protect or remove adjacent properties.
  • Hazard mitigation.
    • Clean-up
    • Removal/disposal
    • Repairs
    • Asbestos removal
    • Vegetation/vermin abatement
  • Utilities to be disconnected (to the burn structure) and removed or protected (adjacent structures).
  • Run-off containment.

 Burn Day
  • Accountability (PAR) system in place and managed.
  • Weather observed to ensure safe conditions.
  • Rehab station and supplies established.
  • Communications and radios provided.
  • Evacuation plan and signal demonstrated.
  • BLS medical transport unit on-site.
  • Adequate and reliable water supply available.
    • Calculate needed supply (NFPA 1142)
    • Ensure reliability of primary/backup lines (95 gpm)
    • Ensure adequate minimum water reserve
    • Ensure clear space around structure for operation of hose lines
  • Fuel materials available.
    • Amount and type (wood-only)
    • Documentation/calculation of fuel loading
    • Removal of additional potential ignition sources and unidentified materials
  • Parking and staging areas designated.
    • Apparatus used for training
    • Parking for spectators/press
    • Designate ingress/egress routes
  • Brief the pre-burn plan.
  • Maintain the following records:
    • Accounting of all activities conducted
    • List of instructors/assignments
    • List of all participants
    • Documentation of unusual conditions encountered
    • Injuries incurred/treatment provided
    • Changes or deterioration to the structure
    • Documentation of condition of structure and surrounding area at end of training
  • Conduct a post-training critique.

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