New fire training facility impacts region

By Paul Lara, Belvoir EagleJune 26, 2020

Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services conducts a hose uncoupling ceremony at the new Fire Training Facility on Davison Army Airfield, Tuesday.
Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services conducts a hose uncoupling ceremony at the new Fire Training Facility on Davison Army Airfield, Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Paul Lara) VIEW ORIGINAL

It was a rare moment on Davison Army Airfield, Tuesday, when a crucial project was funded and completed in one garrison commander’s tenure. “That’s not too often you see that happen,” said Shane Crutcher, Fort Belvoir Fire Chief.

Col. Michael Greenberg, garrison commander, said it was an honor to see the new fire training facility project through.

“This 2,280-square-foot training center is a world-class facility that provides three floors of live-fire training; burn rooms; burn carts; flash hatches; burn windows and burn doors,” Greenberg said. “It also enables us to create mazes, to allow firefighters to practice search and rescue scenarios to ensure victim survivability.

“It includes support-rope, rescue training for rappel training for firefighters and MDW’s Fire Rescue Engineers,” he said, adding the facility also has a space for investigators to simulate realistic fires to investigate fires’ causes and origins.

Crutcher said the facility is a culmination of years of work.

“In April 2018, when I got here, one of the first things I noticed was the condition of the existing tower. I knew it was something we had to look at correcting pretty quickly,” Crutcher said. “This is our bread-and-butter for what we do day-to-day, and the only way we can continue to maintain that level of proficiency is allow our folks to do the first-hand, real-world training associated with it.”

He said the absence of this facility meant training required him to shift staff and pay overtime for fire companies to travel to Fairfax or Alexandria, and estimated the training facility becomes a cost-saver in about four years.

But, Crutcher said the impact of the facility has impacts, far beyond the fence.

“While this facility has Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services on the side of it, it’s really a regional tool,” Crutcher explained. “All of the Military District of Washington fire department training divisions have been down to look at it and see the capabilities it adds. They’re going to be regular users of this facility, as well as our regional partners in Fairfax County and the surrounding area.”

“Fort Belvoir’s 911 Engineers have a long-standing relationship with us, and we’ve signed an memorandum of understanding allowing the 911th to train with our firefighters,” Greenberg said.

“One of the most important features of this facility is building confidence in our firefighters, so you can do your mission when it happens, ensuring that ‘everyone goes home,’” Greenberg said.

“This facility is a great contribution to Fort Belvoir and I’m extremely proud to be part of it.”

This story originally ran in the Belvoir Eagle on June 24, 2020.