BRING THE HEAT: Fire departments train in burn trailer
Published 4:00 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Things were heating up at the Pike County Fire Department Tuesday, as firefighters participated in some annual training.
The firefighters geared up and went in a mobile fire trailer provided by the Alabama Fire College. The trailer provided real flame, simulating the effects of a real-life house fire.
“It gives (the firefighters) a real good feel of what to expect,” said Lt. Buford Stephens. “It’s got the rollover effect and it has several fires. It serves a great purpose and it’s great training.”
Stephens said the trailer maxes out at about 750 degrees, simulating the heat of an actual house fire.
“Usually in a normal house fire, that’s about where it’s going to get,” Stephens said. “But if you get a house fire where there is more than one room burning, you’re going to get temperatures up in the thousands, sometimes a bit more than that.”
In addition to the heat, other elements come into play when training in the burn trailer. Stephens said the department uses the trailer as an opportunity to train in other situations such as a firefighting going down on site.
“It gives us a good chance to work on certain things like if a firefighter goes down,” Stephens said. “We initialize a team to go and get him. That’s a big thing that we work on.”
It even serves as practice for the firefighters who maintain the hoses.
“He is getting a real-life scenario of actually flowing water,” Stephens said.
The firefighters have conducted this training annually for at least 10 years, according to Stephens. Fire departments from across the county and even surrounding counties take advantage of training with the burn trailer.
While the trailer does a good job of simulating the fire and allows firefighters to experience the heat and get in some good training, experienced firefighters agreed that nothing compares to the real thing.
“It’s similar to a mobile home fire,” Sgt. Daniel Hussey said. “But the propane is not the same as actual material burning.”
Hussey said that there is no rush of adrenaline or emotion with the burn trailer as there would be in a real house fire, but if a firefighter is training with a trailer for the first time, it could be very realistic.
Sgt. Allan Pennington said that the burn trailer does not smoke like a house fire.
“In real fire, you can’t see what you are doing,” Pennington said. “You can see the glow from the fire, but that’s it.”
Although it may not be 100 percent like the real thing, Stephens said that it is excellent practice for the firefighters, and it is important to always stay in training.
“If we mess up of if someone does something they aren’t supposed to, we step back and talking about it, regroup and do it again,” Stephens said. “In a real-life situation, life and property is at stake. We don’t have the opportunity to back up and re-do.”
Stephens said it’s a good way for the firefighters to interact with other departments and the volunteer firefighters. He said that it is obvious that they love what they do.
“It takes a special person to get out and put their life on the line for somebody else at any minute,” Stephens said.