It was our pleasure to welcome members of the newly formed Northern Wake Fire Department, NC’s largest combination fire department, to our construction site at The Lodge at Avalaire recently for a rare training experience. The former Bay Leaf Volunteer F.D. and Stony Hill Rural F.D. have merged, forming the Northern Wake F.D. with the largest number of rostered volunteers of any department in the state. The purpose of their training at Avalaire was to observe and document the greater complexities of high-quality custom home construction and the unknowns that a firefighter might encounter when responding to an emergency at a large, custom home. Our own Eric Sherman, who has been a volunteer firefighter in the North Raleigh area for nearly five years, helped spearhead the training event.

He explains: “When we respond to an incident at a five-over-four-and-a-door traditional home, we know that 99% of the time when you walk through the front door there is going to be a dining room on one side and an office/living room on the other separated by a hallway leading back to the kitchen on one side and family room on the other, and typically all of the bedrooms are going to be on the second floor. Familiarity with this layout enables us to size-up the structure in a prepared and systematic way, potentially saving lives. However, many neighborhoods within our district are full of custom homes with unique layouts and unconventional features, which can be challenging to navigate. For this reason, bringing our crew into the Lodge at Avalaire and exposing them to a complicated architectural structure during construction was an invaluable experience for the Department.”

Most importantly, this training was an opportunity for firefighters, many of whom may not be familiar with custom home construction, to see how a home of this magnitude is structured. During training, firefighters don’t typically get to tour homes with porte cocheres, floating timber beams in vaulted ceilings, or residential elevators. Touring a home during construction with all these features and more was an invaluable experience for those in attendance, as they often have to bust through doors and walls during an emergency situation. Eric pointed out architectural clues that may indicate a complicated structure beneath the surface, such as steel beams, electrical junctions, elevator shafts, HVAC/fireplace flue chases, and hidden attic space beneath complex roof designs. With construction experience, one can look at the form of a home or building and make a quick guess as to what’s happening beneath the surface, and that is what Eric was able to share with his F.D. at The Lodge.

As an added bonus, the training allowed them to form a response pre-plan for this address, as it falls within their district. Touring the property allowed the crews that may be called during an emergency to familiarize themselves with the property and make notes about the structure and features that might assist them during a real incident. It is fortunate that this home has a pre-plan in place before it is occupied.

We are proud to support our volunteer firefighter Eric Sherman and we’re honored to have provided the North Raleigh community a valuable training experience for it’s impressive new fire department. Learn more about the Northern Wake Fire Department here.