FirstNet technical engineers will be fitted with turnout gear and SCBA to run drills at the Tualatin (Ore.) Valley Fire & Rescue Training Center on March 3-4. A post-training incident report will be developed and used to guide the engineers while they develop hardware and software systems for the LTE-based public-safety broadband network, said Jeff Johnson, FirstNet board member and former chief of Tualatin.
Tualatin’s $1.5-million training center consists of 15.65 acres with live-burn propane props, confined-space area, trench rescue, high-angle rescue and hazmat response — letting FirstNet technical engineers experience the environmental challenges faced by firefighters on the fireground. The department’s training division is accredited through the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to deliver certified training from Firefighter I to Fire Officer II.
Technical engineers have had little exposure to the fire environment, so Johnson plans to immerse them into firefighting through the live-fire training. He said the technical team will be put inside the fire building and exposed to all critical aspects of firefighter and EMS operations, in addition to riding along with the crew.
“Our goal is to put them into real-life situations, so they know how these devices have to be simple to use in their environments,” Johnson said.
Current products on the market will not be used in the training, Johnson said.
FirstNet engineers will be tasked with developing communication products from the ground up, including the form factor. The training will help them understand device operability in those environments and what firefighters need to see and to feel, Johnson added.
“I don’t think anyone has anything out there that meets our needs today,” he said. “I think we are talking ground-up redesign, so it is important to put those people in that [live-fire] building, in gear, because those designing the criteria by which these devices are manufactured have to get a feel for it.”