Fire agencies take full advantage of ‘hands-on’ training opportunity

The former Doubles Beachside Restaurant in Indian Harbour Beach, set to be torn down, became a busy live-fire training site with several agencies using the 15,000 square feet under roof to simulate conditions they would face in a real structure fire in an older commercial building.

The relatively small Indian Harbour Beach Volunteer Fire Department hosted the six-hour training on Aug. 4, working alongside Melbourne Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Satellite Beach Fire Department, Brevard County Fire Rescue Station 63, and five station crews from Melbourne Fire Department. Neighboring agencies are routinely called in to provide mutual aid and must work cooperatively to extinguish large fires.

Doubles Beachside Restaurant debuted in 1983 as a hoagie shop and later moved to the fire training location at 1896 South Patrick Dr., Indian Harbour Beach. The business, which had its last day June 28, is in the process of moving into a smaller version at the former Peg Leg’s restaurant site at the southwest corner of State Road A1A and Desoto Parkway.

“Other fire departments enjoy this kind of training because they do not have to fake or walk through an exercise. They can have real hands-on training to improve their communications during an active scene, practice their skills and techniques, and go over their safety procedure when working a real calls,” said Indian Harbour Beach Fire Chief Todd Scaldo.

During the training a smoke machine and smoke candles filled the whole structure with artificial smoke to make it seem more realistic.

Training exercises included cutting into the roof system, the breaching of interior walls, forcible entering of doors, communications with command, compelling the Fire Department Connection (FDC) to activate the sprinkler system in the building, and techniques on how to shut down water flow from a broken sprinkler head.

The 25-member Indian Harbour Beach department consists solely of volunteers, with Station 56 the only fire station in the city limits.

It is somewhat rare for the small department to host training, which happens when the city’s Building Department and Fire Marshal give a heads-up on a possible training site. Most opportunities involve residential structures.

“What made this training so attractive to us and other agencies was the hands-on, live training,’’ Scaldo said.

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