Once the base structure was done, I went out & bought some cheap building supplies like 4x4 sheets of gyproc (plaster wall) as well as some veneer planks so make for the outside walls. One thing that I didn't go cheap on was the plywood used for the flooring and the ceiling. I took regulation 5/8th to support the weight properly and to add rigidity to the structure - even with 2x4 added to secure the pallet walls, they were too unstable to my taste and I wanted something relatively real-life like.
When you combine the gyproc, the hardwood pallets and a thinner outside wall, you get something that's pretty decent to simulate escaping from within a structure (e.g. from one room to the other or from one room to some other area that presents some demolition challenge). Our department has a few women and not-so-young firefighters so I did want to make a simulation that was tailored to the physical level in our department...
So once the interior of the structure was lined with Gyproc, I covered the exterior walls. Then I bolted the ceiling plywood - important to bolt and not to screw/nail because you want to be able to re-use the structure over and over as needed - just unbolt the ceiling, replace the materials as need and re-bolt again for a new finished product.
The advantages with this type of construction are numerous: you can tailor the level of difficulty to what's needed by adjusting with the thickness of the materials (we have a wide range: from a couple of roughnecks to older women: the roughneck got a good sweat out of it and the women took more time, but eventually got through), it's relatively cheap if you can get your hands on free pallets (shouldn't be too hard). This one cost about $500 overall, including tarp and ropes to cover the finished product and protect it against the elements). Finally, it's reusable over and over while providing a sorta real-life environment.
Tons and tons of fun !!
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