Money to burn

Bill Streett, deputy chief of training for Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue, stands outside the county's training facility off Landfill Road in Edinburg. The burn facility needs repairs and the department has been notified that it will be receiving $79,150 from the Virginia Fires Services Board, an amount more than half of the $140,000 projected for an overhaul of the burn building. Rich Cooley/Daily

The blackened masonry structure that rises out of the landscape on the outskirts of Edinburg has been the scene of many fires, all of them purely training exercises conducted by firefighters from Shenandoah County and other jurisdictions.

But even the most ruggedly constructed building starts showing its age when fires are started inside at regular intervals. There are always plenty of firefighters around to quell the flames at the Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue burn building, but the repeated assaults from heat and smoke have taken an undeniable toll.

The Department of Fire and Rescue was notified a few days ago that it will be receiving $79,150 from the Virginia Fires Services Board, an amount more than half of the $140,000 projected for an overhaul of the burn building.

“We’re going to repair it,” Chief Gary Yew said. “The building sees very frequent use and, of course, it is exposed to hot temperatures to simulate structure fires.”

The burn building was constructed in 1993 and was renovated in 2010. Bill Streett Jr., the department’s training chief, said the burn building is one of the largest of its kind in the state and is sometimes used by firefighters in nearby jurisdictions that lack a similar facility.

The training sessions, which are held several times a month, involve burn simulations and mock rescue operations.

Streett said the planned repairs are being made in response to recommendations issued after a state inspection, part of a program involving a regular survey of all burn buildings around Virginia.

“It’s pretty much a standard project, Streett said of the repairs.

The rooms inside the building are lined with special material designed to resist heat from fires. Yew said the repairs will involve replacement of the special lining and work on the masonry.

The repairs, which are included in the county’s capital expense budget, will be done sometime after July.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com