The first Fort Wayne Fire Department recruits Nov. 4 used the department’s new live fire training center at 2700 Dwenger Ave.

Over the past 2½ years, the fire department has invested over $150,000 on the training facility. The initial part of the project was offset by a $60,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. This most recent phase was finished in late October, according to a city announcement.

The multistory modular burn center allows instructors to provide a safe and controlled live fire environment that simulates the firefighting experience for not only the recruit class but incumbent firefighters. Multiple fires can be set and extinguished in the entirely steel structure repetitively during training sessions. These repetitive exercises help firefighters develop what is called “muscle memory,” so that they will begin to instinctively perform procedural tasks in high stress situations, according to the announcement.

The live fire training center is built from decommissioned steel shipping containers to keep costs low. Using shipping containers also allows for expansions. Plans include adding multiple structures to the building to simulate various situations such as a fire in a strip mall, a garage or a cul-de-sac.

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