The 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire emergency services' training grounds are receiving upgrades scheduled to be complete by the end of April.
The upgrades, worth $650,000, include renovating the aircraft fire trainer and structural fire trainer, which are tools used to perform controlled fire exercises.
The structures are being updated due to condition and age and will provide new training opportunities to the firefighters, keeping their skills sharp so they can focus on protecting Airmen.
"The aircraft fire trainer is a critical part of the firefighter's upgrade training," said Greg Farley, 20th CES fire emergency services chief. "They're on an Air Force Base; they have to be certified airport firefighters, they have to get licenses on the crash trucks and the aircraft fire trainer is all part of that. If that's not working, our operation takes a big hit in what we can do."
The renovations to the aircraft fire trainer include replacing pipes, wires and the right-wing assembly, which simulates engine fires.
A two-and-a-half story building is also being added to the structural fire trainer, increasing square footage and the amount of "burn rooms," rooms specially insulated to contain real fires for the firefighters to train in, replicating a house fire.
Shaw Fire Department has a mutual aid plan with Sumter County, allowing 20th CES firefighters to fight house fires off-base.
Training with real fires also allows the firefighters to gain experience using equipment and dealing with the intense heat and smoke conditions.
"Having these upgraded facilities at the training grounds will definitely help Airmen who come in from technical school because it will give them a more realistic idea of what they're going to be seeing," said Airman 1st Class Adrian Roybal, 20th CES firefighter.
With the new building, Shaw firefighters will be able to practice feeding sprinkler systems, ventilating rooftops and performing search-and-rescue missions with movable walls, enabling the house layout to be changed.
Farley said the movable walls will challenge firefighters going through the training, preventing them from memorizing the floor plan.
The 20th CES fire emergency services provide fire and medical response, helping to keep Shaw and the community within a 5-mile radius safe; the investment to renovate the training grounds will promote their readiness, keeping them fit to fight fires.