By Bob Vaccaro
Published Friday, October 31, 2008
| From the November 2008 Issue of FireRescue
Firefighter training has come along way in the past several years. Not only have training hours increased, they’ve become mandated at various levels, making training the burden of counties, states and other government entities—in addition to the fire chiefs and company officers who implement training. Moreover, municipalities must increasingly provide a safe training facility that is environmentally friendly. To address these concerns, mobile fire trainers are becoming a popular option in fire departments across the country. In this article, I’ll highlight the mobile trainers of Kidde, a 28-year veteran in this industry.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) was looking to improve training for its personnel statewide, but permanent on-site fire-training facilities are expensive, not only because of the cost of construction, but also the cost/availability of land. So the IDHS chose to contract the construction of mobile training centers that could be moved from department to department as needed.
“We began the spec-writing process about 18 months ago,” says Branch Chief John M. Buckman III, who heads the program. “The staff at the Indiana Firefighter Training System wrote the specs based upon existing live-fire trainers that we investigated. Then we added some of our own specs. Specifically, the state wanted a 100-percent, 2-year warranty and visits every 6 months by [the manufacturer’s employees] to adjust and calibrate all systems on the unit.”
The department ended up choosing the ML-100 by Kidde. The unit provides state-of-the-art fully automatic agent-detection and manual-operator-control capabilities. It’s 53 feet long and can provide a wide variety of fire training scenarios such as laddering, search and rescue, fire suppression, ventilation and rapid ventilation.
“The unit was purchased using state funds and Kidde was given the bid, because they were willing to negotiate,” Buckman explains. He says he couldn’t be happier with the staff at Kidde, including sales, support and maintenance.
“We plan on using the mobile trainer at a different district each month,” Buckman says. “Each district will have access to training for 30 days. We have developed six fire-training evolutions for search and rescue, vertical ventilation and confined space.”
The Pros of Mobility
There are many benefits to using mobile training centers. They are self-contained, featuring onboard liquid fuel storage and electrical power generation. Plus, you can operate them virtually anywhere, even close to residential areas.
Trainers can be fueled by propane, natural gas or butane, fueling options that obviate contaminated firefighting runoff and toxic smoke. And you don’t have to worry about loading wood pallets or excelsior for burning. In fact, there’s virtually no set-up time required with these units.
I’ve seen the operation of several mobile fire trainers first-hand at fire service shows. They are simple to set up. In fact, the IDHS can run eight burn evolutions or more in 1 hour. Changing the training evolution is easy, so you can train on multiple evolutions in a single day. You can also document time, day and training conditions and performance results for each trainee. When you’re done, there’s virtually no clean up.
If you’re looking for a simple way to train your firefighters anywhere space is limited or mobility warranted, look into one of these mobile fire trainers. There are many models to suit your needs.
Indiana Firefighter Training System module trainer specs
Mobile Structural FireTrainer ML-1000
- Two propane-fueled fires
- Five interchangeable fireplace mockups
- Advanced AquaMesh burner technology
- Flashover/rollover effect fire
- Class A burn crib
- Onboard smoke-generation system
- Tethered and wireless controls
- Pitched roof ventilation prop
- Collapsible second-story room
- Full internal staircase
- Two standard training doors
- Two shuttered windows
- Four movable partition walls
- Vinyl graphics package
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