Two fire recruits attack a fire in the simulator Tuesday. The simulator allows recruits to get up close and personal with a live, propane-fueled fire while allowing supervisors to maintain safety throughout the exercise. | Austin Nelson
Two fire recruits attack a fire in the simulator Tuesday. The simulator allows recruits to get up close and personal with a live, propane-fueled fire while allowing supervisors to maintain safety throughout the exercise. | Austin Nelson

Archived Story

Getting all fired up

Published 11:17am Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Firefighters fight simulated fires to train for the real deal

Smoke has been rising near Alexander City Fire Department Station Two this week – but it is no cause for alarm.

Fire recruits attack a fire during Tuesday’s training. | Austin Nelson
Fire recruits attack a fire during Tuesday’s training. | Austin Nelson

The smoke has been billowing out of one of the Alabama Fire College’s Fire Simulators, which resembles a tractor trailer except it is dressed to the nines with propane burners, ventilation fans and smoke generators.

This week, the trailer has been working overtime. ACPD has been hosting a recruit school, with aspiring firefighters from Alexander City, Beulah and Huguley.

Capt. Jeff Brewer said the fire simulator is a great way to provide recruits with fire attack training and search and rescue operations.

“Some of these recruits have never been in a structure fire or a heated up, smoked up environment,” Brewer said. “It is safe to put them in and gives them a great start.”

Alexander City native Michael Patterson, 25, was among the recruits.

Patterson said his time in the simulator was his first experience in a fire.

“It isn’t as hot as I thought it would be, but they keep telling us this doesn’t get as hot as a real fire,” Patterson said.

Recruits weren’t the only ones making runs through the simulator. Brewer said veteran firefighters have been coming by in shifts to log training time.

“For the veteran firefighters, this is great for fire attack, search and rescue drills and firefighter mayday drills,” Brewer said. “We get points for using this device that go towards our ISO rating.”

The trailer, which was provided free of charge by the Alabama Fire College, will also be used by the Hackneyville, Dadeville and Kellyton fire departments while it is set up at Station Two. The Alexander City Public Safety Academy also took a spin on the simulator Tuesday night.

While ACFD has trained on fire simulators before, this year’s unit touts a separate control room.

“Last year, the person operating simulator had to go inside and operate it with a remote control,” Brewer said. “This one has a booth with windows so the operator can watch what is going on and control the smoke, fire and vents without having to get suited up and be inside.”