Firehouse Q – for complex scenarios

Due to the extensive outdoor area with parking lots, masts, overhead lines and traffic signs, operational drills at the firehouse Q already begin with the approach. The six-storey massive building offers a wide range of training opportunities for the company. The three lower floors are equipped for solid fuel fires, in the three upper ones mobile gas fire points are in use. Many different architectural details – from the floodable cellar and a garage in the basement to various escape routes, residential and workshop rooms to various roof installations – allow a wide, demanding range of drills. The firehouse Q is thus an ideal training place to experience an operation from the alarm to the completion, close to a real operation.

Flashover- und backdraft box

As Observers the participants can experience the special dangers of a firefighting operation with the flashover and backdraft box. Here the development of a fire and the smoke layering can be observed at a model. The main changes and signs of smoke ignition are explained by the instructors and can be followed directly by the participants.

Flashover training facility

The experience of the phenomenon of a flashover, dangerous for firefighters, is increased in the flashover trainer. The participants are seated in a 40-foot container, in which a solid fuel fire creates a flashover. In addition to the signs of a flashover, the participants also experience impressively high temperatures.

Pyrodrome (firehouse) – internal attacks in a residential building

The Pyrodrome has a spacious outdoor area, a five-storey practice facade and inside four floors of a typical residential building with nine gas-fueled mock-ups. Depending on the level of training and the desired challenge, different practice and operational scenarios can be played through – from the exterior window and exterior fireplace fire, basement and apartment fires to a flashover upstairs. Among other things, ladder raising, door opening, hose management, orientation in smoked filled rooms, fire attack and the rescue of persons are practised.

Training car park - Various challenges

Many fire services have underground car parks in their deployment area. They can prepare for the special operational conditions of a vehicle fire in the training car park. The car park has various entrances and driveways, which can be closed depending on the scenario. The path to the fire can either lead up (car park situation) or down through the heat to the fire (underground car park). On the three half-storey levels, garage boxes of different sizes are arranged. This is where firefighting and search and rescue of people are practised. The architecture creates additional challenges for when participants are to orient themselves in the smoke or to keep escape and rescue routes smoke-free.

Respiratory protection training facilities

In Balsthal, there are several respiratory protection training facilities of different levels of difficulty. In addition to an indoor SCBA parcourse with gas and liquid piping to simulate a demanding industrial plant and numerous obstacles, there are also several outdoor parcourses.

Real fire in the container facility

Participants can gain experience in extinguishing a solid fuel fire in the container facility, also known as RFRS. The abbreviation stands for "Real Fire - Real Smoke". In the two-storey complex, an attack from above through the heat to the fire can also be practised. The participants experience the reactions of fire, smoke and water vapour during the fire attack.

Fire attack platform - attacking liquid fires

Not only residential fires but also liquid fires are part of the training offer in Balsthal. On the 20 x 25 m fire attack platform, various heptane-fired mock-ups are available. Also a railway tank car can be included. The triple fire attack is practised (attacking with 3 different extinguishing agents). In addition, an accident can be staged in which the sealing, collection and pumping of liquids are practised.

Theme Park - flexible variations of room situations

The Theme Park is characterized by a flexible room concept: Lightweight wall elements can be moved in just a few simple steps, creating different rooms. These are furnished as hospital rooms, computer rooms, children's rooms, offices, laboratory rooms, apartments, etc. Different fires and causes are simulated in the individual rooms, such as a cable fire in an energy duct or in the subfloor of a computer room. In addition to attacking the fire, moving in the rooms, advancing safely, using the thermal imaging camera as well as search and rescue are practised.

Rescue facade

On the rescue facade, rescuing from highs or depths are practised with different ladders and abseiling equipment.


Fire services can also practice rescuing people from highs and depths on a 7.5-metre-high silo.

Wooden house

The wooden house is used for practising knots and fall protection as well as working on a tiled roof.

Pioneer site

In cooperation with the civil defence of the canton of Solothurn, a pioneer site was created in Balsthal. The most important stations include a three-part tunnel and tube system for working in confined spaces, an unstable field of debris for rescuing buried or trapped persons and crew training. Additionally, a multi-purpose station for tasks of the flood defence, including pump operations is available.

Fire extinguisher platform

The handling of hand-held fire extinguishers and the handling of fog nozzles are trained on the fire extinguisher platform. Tasks include fighting wood, liquid, trash, screen, gas grill and grease fires, as well as pipe, gas cylinder and liquid fires in barrels. The intensity of the fires can be individually adjusted, and individual practice sequences can be repeated as often as desired.