CFA Opens New Fire Investigation Training Facility

Member News imageCFA Deputy Chief Officer Rohan Luke, Fire Investigation Manager Nicole Harvey, CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan, Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes and CFA PAD Supervisor VEMTC, Huntly Campus, Frank Beukelman

CFA has unveiled its new state of the art and purpose built Fire Investigation Training Facility at the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC) in Huntly today.

The $3.4 million facility is the first of its kind in Australasia and will enable CFA firefighters and other emergency service personnel to learn how to investigate the origin and cause of fires in a safe and controlled environment.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said we’re committed to providing our firefighters with the best infrastructure, training and support but it’s not just emergency service personnel who will benefit from this facility.

“Fires can be started as a result of everyday appliances malfunctioning such as fridges, toasters and battery chargers,” said Jason.

“In this new facility, our fire investigators will be trained to identify if something of that nature has happened which can help us prevent future fire emergencies and continue to protect the safety of Victorians.

“We’re also excited to be able to share these new facilities with our multi-agency colleagues across Victoria Police, Forensic Services, Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) and WorkSafe Victoria.”

The facility features four burn rooms which can be staged to replicate what happens when a fire starts within a home, garage or other residential environment.

The rooms are fitted with several technological features that can record the temperature of a fire at different levels within the room as well as a large-screen television that’s linked directly to the camera inside each room to observe and record the ignition and development of the fire.

This data can then be used to teach firefighters and fire investigators about fire dynamics and helps them piece together how a fire could have started.

The Fire Investigation Training Facility also has a carport where vehicle fires can be replicated for learning purposes.

Structure and vehicle fires are some of the most common types of incidents that CFA firefighters respond to. House fires are categorised as structure fires.

Fire investigation helps prevent other fires occurring and can result in product recalls if appliances and equipment are found to be unsafe.

For example, an investigation into a structure fire in 2022 identified that the origin and cause of a fire was an electrical failure of a fridge located in an outdoor kitchen at a residential property.

Details of the make, model and year of manufacture were documented as part of the fire scene examination process and ultimately through working in partnership with external agencies such as Energy Safe Victoria (Electrical) the investigations contributed to the identification of the fire risk, leading to a product safety recall of the fridge.

With a focus on environmental safety and sustainability, the training facility incorporates a $1.76 million thermal oxidiser to capture and treat the smoke and combustion gases produced from the burns.

The smoke can be quite toxic and so the thermal oxidiser is needed to essentially break down all the chemicals within the smoke.

Effectively just carbon dioxide is then exhausted from the oxidiser.

The Fire Investigation Training Facility is also designed to use a minimal amount of water in the suppression of fires and a waste-water management system is in place to capture and store the used water. It is then collected and taken off-site for treatment.

/CFA News Release. View in full here.