Advances in firefighting equipment and protective clothing in recent years allow modern firefighters to move further into burning structures and stay in them for longer.
While this generally allows firefighters to carry out their tasks with greater efficiency, it also makes it essential for them to have a greater understanding of fire behaviour and development patterns, particularly in regards to modern fire occurrences such as flashover and backdraught.
The increasing amounts of plastics and synthetic materials used in the construction and contents of buildings do not burn cleanly, but generate large volumes of thick, dark, toxic smoke containing high levels of unburnt fuel which can ignite given the right conditions. This auto ignition can create a wave of flame that radiates downwards, causing the contents of a room to burst into flame with devastating effects. This flashover behaviour is a normal phase in the development of almost all compartment fires, and can reach temperatures up to 1100 degrees Celsius.
With modern fire phenomenon such as this, firefighters need realistic training methods to recognise the stages of fire development and maintain safety and efficiency on the job.
The QFES has conducted extensive international research into the best live fire training methods, and has formed a live fire training program that gives firefighters the chance witness the development of fires in realistic but controlled conditions and to experiment with firefighting methods to ensure the highest level of firefighter safety on the job and community protection.
A 1.5-hectare live fire training campus has been developed at the Queensland Fire and Rescue Academy.