Over the last couple weeks, staff at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Fire Safety Center in Eau Claire, Wis.., built a one-bedroom apartment inside its facility, only to start fires throughout it.

Sounds strange, right? But in fact, building structures only to burn things inside them is a common occurrence for the campus facility. This time, OneEvent Technologies’ fire prevention software was installed in what was the largest structure built inside the center to date.

The collaboration allowed OneEvent to conduct specialized research that will help it develop more software and perfect its OneEvent business and home monitoring system, while offering the Fire Safety Center insight on how to teach its students — and even veteran staff — to better fight fires.

The Fire Safety Center structure is metal, covered by fireproof tiles made of silica, like those that go on space shuttles, said Kim Nessel, a fire protection engineer and CVTC instructor with 35 years of experience in the field. High-temp safety glass protects fire services students as they look into burn room to see fires in progress. The apartment built for oneEvent’s testing was 20 feet by 35 square feet, with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, living/dining room, hallway, closet and windows.

OneEvent staff spent the last week creating a variety of fire scenarios, from those started by lawn mowers and kerosene heaters to highly flammable Christmas trees, just in time for the holidays. Common commercial and home fires such as those caused by dryers, microwaves and ovens were also started and studied. OneEvent software measured temperature, smoke and carbon monoxide levels from sensors it installed throughout the apartment so that fires could be predicted well before they began.

“There’s all kinds of scenarios that I’ve run across over the years that have been perplexing to firefighters and the general public,” Nessel explained. He said that by controlling the burn environment and gaining a better understanding of how fires begin and accelerate, there’s a great deal to be learned. “Putting that knowledge out there is going to be so valuable — even for a 30-year veteran.”

Read stories in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram  and the Dunn County News, or watch news clips on WEAU 13 and WQOW 18 to learn more about OneEvent and CVTC’s fire safety testing.