Firefighters train with mobile simulator from Alabama Fire College

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A firefighter with Madison Fire and Rescue Department enters a burning room in the simulation trailer on loan from the Alabama Fire College. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Billowing smoke clouds around City Hall and Fire Station 1 this week have caused motorists to take a second look.

Instead of an emergency, the smoke indicates that on-the-job training is underway for Madison Fire and Rescue Department. The department has been conducting fire training with the Mobile Fire Simulation trailer from the State of Alabama Fire College.

“This trailer allows for our firefighters to get realistic fire ground training while maximizing their safety,” public information officer Capt. Russ Kennington said. “If you are driving by, check it out or stop by and see your firefighters in action.”

The trailer is equipped with propane-powered fire props and movable walls. Ventilation ‘manages’ the heat and to avoid internal temperatures exceeding 700 degrees F. If the temperature goes higher, the unit shut downs and ventilates the structure.

The simulation trailer also allows Madison firefighters to train in real-life scenarios in a safer, more controlled environment. Instructors can move trailer walls to create different layouts and use propane to create realistic fire scenes.

“To further enhance the lifelike training, theatrical smoke is pumped into the structure to create a zero-visibility environment without all the dangerous gases in smoke from burning materials,” Kennington said.

All firefighter shifts have “honed their skills on numerous scenarios and put into practice the strategies and tactics they would normally use when called to a structure fire,” he said. With this training, firefighters can satisfy part of their required monthly training of 20 hours.

“The realistic utilization of their knowledge and skills in a safer environment is most beneficial,” Kennington said. “It’s very hard for our guys to get this type of training without creating an environment that is dangerous.”

After training, “after-action reviews” will determine areas that were successful or need improvement. “The trailer has been beneficial. We can duplicate scenarios and determine best practices,” captain of training Dustin Spires said. “As always, our goal in training is to be better prepared and more effective when we respond to an emergency.”

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