SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Fire Department's brand-new training facility is special for many reasons. It allows lifesaving practice drills, incorporates technology that allows critique and honors a fallen brother.
The Deem Training Center is named after firefighter Scott Deem, who was killed in a fire in 2017 at the Ingram Square Shopping Center when a roof collapsed on him.
City leaders and members of the media were invited to tour the new facility, which was built inside a warehouse previously used for storage by the Fire Department and hazmat team.
Firefighters then performed a drill to show the intensity of the training.
They filled a 2,400-square-foot mock house with theatrical smoke, but the scenario was very real.
The firefighters have zero visibility, but thermal imaging cameras inside record them controlling the fire and looking for people inside. That footage will later be used for critique and improvement.
The radio outside the building sounded off, as firefighters inside reported finding two victims. They then dragged out two 185-pound dummies. Then a mayday call was heard over the radio. A firefighter was down. An entire crew eventually carried that firefighter out. It was all fake, but it was still chilling to watch.
"Thank you for the service that you do every day," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said to the firefighters.
Crews across the city will train at the facility twice a day, meaning every firefighter will go at least once a year. The props can be reconfigured at any time to switch up the drills and give the crews new challenges.
The name of the Deem Training Center will remind the firefighters of what they've lost and why they're training so hard.
"We want to learn as much as we can, so why not put Scott Deem's name on this facility, because every time someone comes here, they understand the commitment. We have to never let Scott's loss be in vain, so it's very important for us to continue to remember that every single day," Fire Chief Charles Hood said.
He said the facility is way to honor Deem and his family.