A roundup of the most unique and innovative fire, hazmat, driver and rescue training simulators currently on the market.
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Firefighters train continually in order to make sure their skills are top-notch when they arrive at an incident, so that they can effectively knock down fires, rescue victims or identify hazardous materials. But effective training depends in large part on being able to replicate the unique environment in which firefighters work, and the myriad situations they encounter. In this article, we examine numerous training simulators and props that are on the market to help fire departments ensure personnel are well-prepared for any incident.
Live-Fire Training Props
BullEx Safety's Advanced Fire Training System provides realistic live-fire training opportunities for firefighters through helicopter, vehicle and pressure-vessel training platforms. Each platform is based on three components: pilot module, burner tray and fire prop. The pilot module and burner tray are designed to interface with the helicopter, vehicle and pressure-vessel props. The system's versatile control board can control each of the props individually or in combination. The components can be built to specific standards, based on customer requests.
Each prop is constructed of ultra-heavy-gauge steel and is capable of withstanding the most intense fire evolutions, according to the company. They also contain propane-fueled multiple burn zones. These burn zones are controlled by the instructor via remote control, which features an integrated emergency-stop to ensure the safety of trainees.
Class A Training Tower
Fire Facilities' Commissioner training tower includes multiple Class A burn rooms lined with the company's patented Westec stainless-steel insulation system, which protects the building's structure from damaging heat. The tower, which spans 73 feet and stands 40 feet high, is designed to train firefighters in a wide variety of skills. It offers three sections: a 4-story fire training tower, a 2-story residential section and a 1-story burn room annex. It also features a cantilevered balcony, inset balcony and fire escape.
Like all of the company's towers, the Commissioner can be customized to fit the specific needs of the user, whether it is a fire department or regional fire-training school. While it typically is used for all facets of fire training, it also can be used by law enforcement and public works.
Flame-Sim is a three-dimensional, computer-based simulation product that is used to train fire personnel on structure fire response. The simulator provides fire and smoke models that grow and spread realistically based upon time and changes made to the structure by operating fire crews. Up to 10 firefighters can operate on the same fireground from different computers in the fire station, or up to 10 companies across multiple fire stations. In addition, users can customize the apparatus and response times so they can practice specific scenarios. Users also can change fire location and size, occupant locations, bystander locations, structure floor plan and construction type with each new scenario.
Using the simulator, firefighters can move anywhere in and around the structure and employ the tactics specific to their department or training facility. Firefighters can select their point of attack, throw ladders to the roof or windows, vent horizontally or vertically, employ positive pressure, conduct a primary search, activate a PASS device and more. While the firefighters conduct the simulation, the training officer can see each firefighter as they take action.
Mobile Training Prop
The FireVent mobile training prop is a custom-built trailer that uses a 12-volt hydraulic power system to open and close the prop, and to raise and lower the roofing platform in order to adjust the pitch for ventilation training. It has an integrated smoke and sheetrock system built into it that is comprised of heavy-duty tracts placed into the joist hangers, with rafters placed on top of them. This rafter bay is encapsulated by rafters on each side, with roof sheeting on the top and sheetrock on the bottom.
The prop also has a large smoke manifold, built into the frame, which delivers smoke into each rafter bay. Smoke is blown into the rafter bays and is released to simulate smoke and fire conditions when a roof is breached during ventilation. Forcible-entry applications are built into the framing of the prop, and all components and consumable materials are stored and transported inside.
Kidde's Firetrainer T-1000 and T-2000 replicate Class A, B and C interior structure fires using simulated smoke. Both simulate the intense fire, heat, smoke and chaos of such fires, letting firefighters practice using their breathing apparatus or thermal-imaging cameras. The simulators also let incident commanders determine how large the fire grows and how hot interior temperatures will reach. Using computer controls and commands, operators can pre-plan the training and adjust the fire's size and difficulty level on the fly, which lets instructors focus on the firefighters' response rather than on managing the simulator. Instructors also can save each scenario so they can be used with other students, to ensure that training is consistent across personnel.
Systems can be installed in new fire training towers or retrofitted to existing Class A burn buildings.
The Inforcer is a forcible-entry simulator that offers six common evolutions, including an inward and outward swinging door, which lets firefighters use a halligan tool to forcibly bend a reusable piece of 16-gauge, rectangular steel. The simulator's hinge-cutting evolution uses a moveable, custom clam-shell device to hold hinges in place so that users can simulate cutting a standard commercial hinge using a cut-off saw. Users also can practice drop-bar bolt-cutting via a 16-gauge steel plate that simulates a 2-inch carriage bolt, in addition to dead-bolt cutting. It also can be used to practice padlock cutting/breaking with a steel-plate assembly that is bolted to the side of the simulator.
The simulator comes with an initial stock of consumables; a hands-on training session for four to seven instructors; and a CD on forcible-training tactics that can be used during training.
The VigilVanguard driver-training system combines several technologies to create a portable onboard system that measures, records and analyzes driver performance and behavior. A four-camera digital video system records the operator's actions and the field-of-view outside the vehicle during the driving session. A built-in inertia sensor automatically records any speed, acceleration, braking or cornering that exceeds a defined threshold. The instructor can view the real-time video on board using a tablet PC to record events and observations during the drive. All of the data are recorded, including the video and a digital map of the route driven. The GPS map shows the actual path of the drive, and indicates vehicle speeds along the route using a color-coded display.
At the end of the drive, the system generates a comprehensive report including video, motion data and instructor input. It can be used for training on any apparatus, including aerial, pumpers or quads.
Hazmat Training Towers
WHP's interactive fire-training towers are used to train hazmat teams and to provide operational-level training, law-enforcement awareness training and strike-team response training. The props used are actual vessels, pipes, barrels and bottles that are plumbed to provide gas and liquid leaks, as well as simulated sounds, smell, color and piping that would be encountered at an incident. The idea is to provide the trainee with all of the problems a real incident would present — but in a safe and controlled environment. The tower has a powder-coat finish and meets AAMA specifications.
In response to customer requests, WHP also offers a mortarless brick exterior designed to handle the heat-cool, wet-dry cycles that are part of training evolutions.