Indian River Community College Fire Science Academy

Editor’s Note: It’s critical that fire training mimics the fire and rescue operations we will encounter as closely as possible. One way we can replicate such operations in a controlled environment is by using training simulators, which include both virtual-reality software programs and actual physical props and facilities. This article is one of four highlighting different training simulators used to prepare firefighters for fireground realities. For the other three articles, see:

Spring Lake-Blaine-Mounds View (Minn.) Fire Department: MPRI FireSim Driver Simulator & CommandSim Command Center
by Chief Nyle Zikmund

Playing with Fire: MSA’s Fireslayer Chalenge video game test players’ use of thermal imaging cameras
by J. Michael Krivyansk

South Korea National Fire Service Academy:ETC Advcanced Disaster Management Simulator Training Center
by Captain Tae-Mi Kweon, Korean National Fire Service Academy


Recognizing the need for?hands-on training in fire science, and?development of management skills for career advancement, Indian River Community College (IRCC)?in Fort Pierce, Fla., introduced a Fire Science Academy Track in 2005. The program enables students to?complete the basic firefighting academy, EMT training and earn an associate’s degree in fire science in 2 years. This track will be one of the featured programs offered at IRCC’s? Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex, slated to open in December 2008.

One of the first aspects planned for the 50-acre complex was the design and construction of?the Mobile Burn & Confined Space Training & Response Unit, designed by Disaster Preparedness Systems and Gladiator Custom Trailers ( and manufactured by Gladiator Custom Trailers ( This mobile unit, located at the college’s current fire academy until the new complex opens, allows the?college to better serve public safety agencies?throughout the four-county service area?by making the unit available for on-site training. Eighteen trainers from the four counties (Indian River, St. Lucie, Okeechobee and Martin) have completed a 3-day “train the trainers” program, and the unit is now available to all public safety personnel.

The Mobile Burn & Confined Space Training & Response Unit allows agencies to provide live-fire training through the use of two vapor propane burners supplied by an onboard tank in the gooseneck of the trailer. Smoke is supplied by a commercial non-toxic smoke generator and piped through the unit via a system of pipes that can be turned on and shut off in each zone.?Sliding doors allow users to compartmentalize the unit into front and rear chambers.

When the unit is used for confined-space training, a scaffolding system is configured throughout the unit to simulate a building collapse. This scaffolding unit can be easily reconfigured after an evolution so the same personnel can face a new challenge. This feature maximizes training capabilities by providing an array of evolutions limited only by the instructors’ imaginations.

Other features: A center shaft runs from the bottom of the trailer to the second floor, with openings that accommodate different types of materials for breaching; the front of the unit can be flooded up to 12 inches to simulate a broken water supply in a building; and a roof evolution prop on the second level accommodates different types of roofing configurations for ventilation training.

Further, under a mutual-aid agreement with the Treasure Coast Fire Chiefs Association, the unit can respond to actual incidents. Specifically, it can be used to provide mass decontamination through the use of the high-pressure showerheads located in the front half of the unit; and the scaffolding can be used as shoring at any type of collapse a USAR team might encounter.

The unit is pulled by a Ford F-750 equipped with a hydraulic pod unit that has a 15-kW generator. Further, the unit supplies both hydraulic and electrical power to a wide range of tools and applications.

The unit will ultimately be part of a “working” fire station at the Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex.

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