WSU Students Design State-of-the-Art Fire Training Maze


OGDEN, Utah — The South Davis Metro Fire Agency has a new state-of-the-art fire-training maze thanks to Weber State University engineering technology students.
Students will hand over the completed maze to the firefighters on Dec. 13 at the HollyFrontier Woods Cross. Students and their families will meet the fire department and tour the training maze. Firefighters with their gear, fire trucks and ambulances will be on site to celebrate the new facility.
The public is invited to watch as students present the project to WSU faculty on Dec. 5 at 11 a.m. in the Engineering Technology Building Room 247.
Two years ago, South Davis Fire Capt. Paul George was invited to Louisiana Tech University to experience a fire-training maze — a pitch-black enclosure where firefighters navigate obstacles using their sense of touch only. When George asked if he could have the blueprints to build a maze in South Davis, he was told plans weren’t publicly available.
“They said they don’t share information like that,” George said. “That’s when I decided to help create a training facility of our own.”
After gathering funds and donations for construction, George turned to the WSU design engineering program. He received help from his brother-in-law Robert Schiers, a student in the program, as well as from Jeremy Farner, design engineering technology assistant professor.
Under the direction of Farner, Schiers and a team of students designed the maze and obstacles as a senior project.
“The maze has an off-kilter floor, which rotates on a center-axis pipe," Schiers said. “When firefighters go through on their hands and knees, the floor moves each time they put their weight down. Entanglements drop down and catch on air packs. There are stairs to go up and down. Obstacles can be moved, and areas opened and closed for various training scenarios.”
George said he wanted a dynamic structure, something that could be changed repeatedly. He was impressed with the students’ ingenuity.
“I had a list of concepts I wanted,” George said. “I had some ideas in mind about what those concepts would look like, but I didn’t describe to the students the picture I had; I let them do their own drawings. Every one of the concepts came back better than what I had in mind.”
The fire maze was built in partnership with HollyFrontier Refinery in Woods Cross, which did all of the concrete work. The structure was built on the refinery’s land, and HollyFrontier will use it to train its own firefighters as well.
Following construction and testing, the maze plans will be available on the Internet for public use. George foresees that all fire districts in the state will want to build their own mazes eventually.
“Captain George says it is a state-of-the-art training facility.” Farner said. “Weber State’s name is going to be attached to this forever. We want to share it as widely as possible. We want to save lives and help firefighters better train for their jobs. It is a win-win for everybody.”
For more information on the design engineering technology program, visit For more information on the South Davis Metro Fire Agency, visit
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Jeremy Farner, assistant professor, design engineering technology
801-626-6962 •

Marcus Jensen, Office of Marketing & Communications
801-626-7295 •