IRVING -- Even training to fight fire can expose firefighters to potential dangers. Controlled burns still have the potential to do the unexpected, while also releasing the carcinogens believed to cause cancer in firefighters at a higher rate than the general population.

That's why the new $4 million training facility in Irving is being hailed as an invaluable tool when it comes to protecting the public.

A ribbon-cutting is set to christen the five-story tall structure at 10 a.m. Friday.

“You practice as you play and we want to practice at full speed as realistically as possible,” said Irving Fire Assistant Chief J. Taylor. “This simulator gives us a realistic look in a safe manner.”

A variety of different firefighter training exercises can be conducted at the facility, but burn simulators allow firefighters to battle flames in a State-of-the-Art way. The simulators can be remote-controlled to produce flames with the push of a button. Those buttons can also control where the fire burns and how intense, using propane-based flames which do not produce the toxins of a typical structure fire.

The facility will be shared and the cost split between the Irving and Grand Prairie Fire Departments. Prior to their new facility, Irving firefighters would have to leave the city to conduct training.

“We are very appreciative of the training props and the classrooms, but there is a benefit to the community to keep first responders within the city to train,” said Irving Fire Chief Victor Conley.

The 4,000 square-foot building mimics a home on the first floor while simulating an apartment and high-rise commercial building on higher floors.

By adding the new training center and the upcoming Aug. 10 opening of a new fire station, the City of Irving will attain the difficult and rare ISO-1 classification for public protection.

The rating is the highest given by the Insurance Services Office and will help lower the City’s insurance premiums, which could aid economic development projects.