Acquired Structure Training

The Seattle Fire Department's Training Division develops practical educational programs aimed at helping Seattle firefighters stay safe while more effectively protecting people and property. The Training Division develops and facilitates programs that focus on the changing dynamics of residential, commercial and industrial fires, building construction, and the impact these changes have on strategies and tactics. For many years, the Seattle Fire Department's Acquired Structure Training (AST) program has provided valuable hands-on training for Recruit Training and Operations members.  We actively seek out buildings to use for training. Acquired structures provide a level of realism in training that can't be replicated in a fixed facility. These structures are an incredible learning platform and provide one last community service at the end of their useful life. Every year, the donation of buildings provides thousands of hours of realistic training to Seattle firefighters. 

Training

The type of training we conduct varies based on the occupancy, type of construction, and the project timeline. All our training is scalable. We are flexible and adapt to the timeline of the project to prevent any delay. The SFD has three training options: non-destructive, destructive, and live-fire training.  

Non-Destructive Training
This type of training ensures that there is no damage to the property. This is the simplest and most-flexible type of training our firefighters perform. This type of training will be coordinated at the SFD Company level.

Often, our firefighters will ask building owners/representatives if they can walk through a construction site. Firefighters must understand how a building is constructed in order to understand how it will behave under fire conditions. Other times, firefighters will ask to stretch dry hose in a stairwell/hallway or throw ladders to practice such skills.  

Destructive Training
This type of training provides realistic training for firefighters in all disciplines. This type of training requires the paperwork outlined in the flow chart.  

This type of training allows our firefighters to conduct operations as if it were the real thing. Examples would include practicing fire attack methods, ventilation, forcible entry, search and rescue methods, and firefighter survival techniques. The type of destructive training will be outlined by the AST program representative, in coordination with the building owner.  

Live-Fire Training
This type of training provides a controlled, live-fire experience for Recruit Training and Operations members. All live-fire trainings are conducted in compliance with NFPA 1403 requirements, no exceptions. NFPA 1403 strictly limits the type and amounts of fuel used. Additionally, buildings are rarely "burned down."  

 Live-fire training is only conducted in single-family and multi-family dwellings, as approved by the Deputy Chief of Training. There is no more valuable training experience for your SFD firefighters than this. It also provides our citizens an opportunity to see their firefighters in action. We encourage our citizens to come watch, from a safe distance of course. Every effort is made to accommodate those in the community with health concerns. As such, our AST and PIO representatives will work closely with these community members to ensure the safety of all. 

Ideally, we like to have a building donated for training over several days. Some sites and timelines allow for a longer training cycle, others do not. In the past, some sites have allowed weeks of training, based on the demolition schedule. Training over a weekend often allows the maximum use of the structure by our personnel. It also helps minimize the impact to the local neighborhood.  

Requirements

We accept all types of buildings, with a few caveats. Requirements for donation to the Seattle Fire Department are as follows: 

  • The building must be within the Seattle city limits. 
  • A demolition permit must be issued. (Our destructive training is considered demolition) 
  • All utilities must be disconnected. 
  • An asbestos survey is required. (Required for demolition permit) 
  • Proof of ownership and the discontinuance of damage insurance are required. 
  • Letters are exchanged authorizing fire department use of the building, and our responsibilities to the property owner. 
  • If seeking a tax deduction, an appraisal per IRS form 8283, must be conducted prior to the SFD performing drills. 

Although we understand the buildings are going to be torn down, and frequently have passed their useful life, we will reject buildings that are structurally unsound to the point of being hazardous. Likewise, if a building has been infested with rodents, or has been inhabited by transients and contains fecal material, syringes, etc., we may reject the building due to the bio-hazards present. 

Donate

To begin the donation process, reach out to an SFD Training Division contact. An AST program representative will be assigned to answer any questions. The AST representative will guide you through the donation process. We created a flow chart that outlines how the donation process works. See the resources tab on this website. Generally, the paperwork only takes a few hours. In many cases, units can be mobilized to train at the site within 24 hours after a site visit by the AST program representative and an SFD Safety Chief. 

Resources

Contact Us

If you have any questions, or are interested in donating a structure, contact the Seattle Fire Department In-Service Training Coordinator at (206) 386-1772. If email is more convenient, contact the following AST program members and they would be happy to answer any questions or begin the process.

Capt. Kevin Flanagan: Kevin.flanagan2@seattle.gov 

Firefighter Jordan Legan: Jordan.legan@seattle.gov