Lake Superior College
Initial funding was secured to begin construction on a shipping container based live fire training building. Up until this project started, the college lacked the ability to do on site, repetitive live fire training. The Burn Box finally allows students and instructors to gain the benefit of performing live fire training on site with minimal logistical needs.
Two burn buildings were constructed: one single story multi-faceted structure, and a two story building mimicking a multi-family occupancy with interior stair wells. All work was performed by Lake Superior College instructors, with some additional help coming from the LSC Welding Program.
The single story building has multiple burning chambers allowing fires to be placed in various locations.The building works well for entry-level observation burns performed by new firefighters, but can also be utilized for more advanced firefighting maneuvers. Some of the more advanced skills able to be trained on include cutting holes in roofs over real fire, searching for fire victims through a window, advancing a charged hose line through a twisting maze, and searching for fire victims while encountering heavy smoke and high heat.
The second story building with its numerous interior rooms allows for a depth of scenarios to be played out. Firefighters are able to train on fundamental skills, and then combine all of their skills during full speed scenarios. Exterior doors are able to be "locked" by instructors so firefighters are required to use forcible entry techniques to gain access to the building. The interior construction of the building utilizes wood framed walls covered in plywood and then a layer of sheetrock. Not only does this construction method guarantee the most realistic conditions possible, but the sheetrock protects the internals of the structure ensuring a long life for the building.
Lake Superior College has been able to secure tremendous working relationships with local vendors and businesses providing materials for use in The Burn Box. Significant donations of pallets, hay, plywood, and other building materials are all a result of the funding opportunity to construct these buildings.
The Lake Superior College firefighting degree program is the largest day to day user of The Burn Box. Students from all over the region are enrolling in our program, and have made it known that they are coming to LSC because of the quality of the training they will receive. On the other end, our graduates are getting hired by local fire departments at an increasing rate. Our graduates have gained a reputation as having stellar knowledge and skills allowing them to more easily integrate into the career field.
Besides the degree students other users of The Burn Box have included:
- Firefighters from all over the region, paid and volunteer
- Law enforcement agencies
- State Fire Marshal's Office
- State HAZMAT teams
- Industry partners (3M, Enbridge, MnDOT, etc.)
Receiving Innovation Funding from Minnesota State has also opened up additional funding streams to continue expanding The Burn Box Project. In 2019, an additional $10,000 was secured through a Strategic Initiative Grant. This funding was used to secure the purchase of four additional shipping containers to complete our most recent 3-story training building. In the fall of 2019 the LSC Firefighting Program was awarded $83,000 for equipment purchases. All of these purchases involve equipment used directly with The Burn Box program.
Plans are being drawn up to put together a regional new firefighter training academy based at Lake Superior College. The intent would be for all paid departments in the region to send their new recruits to The Burn Box to complete all of their hands on training. The training would be delivered by Lake Superior College instructors over a 2 week period. This academy would lift a tremendous financial and resource burden off of local departments, and provide new firefighters with the most realistic training available.
The momentum created at the start of this project continues to run its course. New shipping containers being stacked for buildings has become a regular sight at Lake Superior College. In the years to come LSC will become widely known as the premier firefighter training facility in the upper mid-west, and it all started with the Shark Tank Open through Minnesota State!
Type of Funding Received through Minnesota State Innovation FundingLarge Seed Grant – $25,000
Sustaining Grant – $10,000
Minnesota State faculty, staff, and administrators interested in applying for an innovation funding grant can visit the Innovation Funding SharePoint (log in using StarID@MinnState.edu) to find more information and applications.