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Burned out with the old

The Glendale Fire Department ended fire exercises with its 50-year-old training structure on Tuesday.

November 01, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • Viking Demolition crews demolish the Glendale Fire Deptartment burn building at the department's training center on West Chevy Chase Drive in Glendale on Tuesday, November 1, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Viking Demolition crews demolish the Glendale Fire Deptartment…

After 50 years of setting fire to the same building, it was finally time to say goodbye to the Glendale Fire Department’s trusty training structure on Tuesday.

Most of the brick-and-mortar building — used to train firefighters on live fire exercises — will be demolished due to the amount of damage and deterioration it has sustained over the years. A new structure will eventually rise at the Glendale Fire Department’s training center at 541 W. Chevy Chase Drive.

“It’s been an amazing tool for, literally, 50 years,” Fire Training Capt. Thomas Marchant said.

Fire Department officials considered repairing the building, but they were advised by experts that the building was unusable. The building is one of only a few facilities in the region that can be used for fire exercises due to regulations on air quality, according to city reports.

“They were surprised we got 50 years out of our building,” he said.

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Wear and tear, including cracks, began to show on the façade after years of use. The concrete inside the building also started to chip and break off.

“We realized the direction of these training tools is changed so much that we didn’t want to spend good money on a structure that isn’t going to last much longer,” Marchant said.

The building’s basement, which is constructed in a series of mazes, will likely remain intact because it’s often used to practice entrapment scenarios, he said.

Firefighters stopped using the building for training about a year ago, but have used other structures at the training center for fire exercises.

Officials say the structure allows firefighters to face a live fire in a controlled setting.

“Our current firefighters use this tool daily,” Marchant said. “Seven days a week, you’ll usually find a group of firefighters down here training in some way, shape or form. And this tool, for the last 50 years, has been instrumental in some of that training.”

Fire Department administrators want to replace the building quickly, but he said they also want a structure that could last just as long as the old facility.

Some options, which are constructed out of shipping containers, already exist at other fire departments in Ventura and Riverside.

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