Lending a Helping Hand and a Building

by Balfour Beatty

February 9, 2022

In preparation for real-world scenarios and environments, firefighters often train and hone their skills in unfamiliar yet safe structures. Recently, Colorado River Constructors, a joint venture partnership between Balfour Beatty and Fluor Enterprises, joined forces with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to allow the Oak Hill Fire Department (OHFD) to conduct hands-on training in a building that has been slated for demolition.

The OHFD training included basic search, forcible entry, wall breach, hose line work, and roof ventilation. Located on US 290 on the west end of the project, the 8,572-square-foot building was constructed with a thick commercial roof that encompasses at least four layers, including rubber, plywood, and polystyrene insulation. Breaching the roof gave firefighters invaluable, firsthand experience to apply when encountering a commercial building fire in the future.

"We are very grateful to have TxDOT and the Oak Hill Parkway team providing this space for our crews to train during construction so we can prepare for specialized emergency incidents we may encounter," says Oak Hill Fire Chief JJ Wittig. "This training helps us become more proficient in performing critical skills when seconds count."

Travis County Emergency Services District No. 3 operates OHFD, which provides fire protection and emergency medical services in southwestern Travis County in Austin, Texas.

“The Oak Hill Parkway team is grateful to provide this opportunity to OHFD,” says Construction Manager David Trent. “It is one way we can say thank you to those who protect and serve the community in which we live and work.”

Oak Hill Parkway is a design-build project that will reconstruct and widen about seven miles of US 290 and SH 71 in southwest Austin. The corridor has been continually listed in the 100 Most Congested Roadways in Texas (Texas A&M Transportation Institute). Slated for completion in 2026, the project will accommodate current and future growth by adding lanes for drivers traveling through Oak Hill and new frontage roads for local traffic. The project will construct flyovers between US 290 and SH 71 as well as bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.