Clallam Fire District 2 Receives New Mobile Training Lab

CLALLAM COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT 2
P.O. Box 1391
Port Angeles, WA. 98362
360-417-4790
www.clallamfire2.org  

For Immediate Release                    Contact: Fire Chief Sam Phillips
Date:    May 25, 2014                        Clallam County Fire District 2
chief@clallamfire2.org
360-417-4790 or 360-912-3105

Clallam 2 Fire & Rescue Receives Mobile Fire Training Simulator
Funded by Grant from FEMA – First of its kind on Peninsula

Port Angeles, Wash. – Clallam 2 Fire and Rescue has received a 53’ Mobile Fire Training Unit thanks to a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The competitive grant, written by the fire district and filed with the U.S. Fire Administration requested funds to purchase the mobile fire training simulator so that firefighter trainees and fire officers could comply with state and national fire training and certification standards. FEMA granted the request which provided up to $375,465.00 and the Fire District contributed $19,761 or five percent as required under the terms of the grant program.

The closest mobile training simulator is located in Bremerton and is owned by the U.S. Navy according to Chief Sam Phillips of Clallam 2 Fire & Rescue. “We have approximately 35 firefighters who require constant skill development. In addition, we have 12-15 new recruits each year that require basic firefighter training and certification”.  The capstone to the nearly 200 hour basic training course is performance and evaluation in a live fire setting said Phillips.  Once in a while we are lucky enough to have dilapidated structures donated to use for training, however most often we need to travel great distances to evaluate our candidates in a live fire training facility such as the State Fire Academy in North Bend, WA. This new simulator will allow our firefighters to remain here locally saving time and taxpayer expense of travelling to the State Fire Academy. Phillips said in a statement. In addition, the mobile fire training simulator will be used to develop the skills and maintain certifications and skills of firefighters, fire officers in strategy & tactics, leadership, team building and close combat operations.

FIRST OF ITS KIND ON PENINSULA
The simulator is the first of its kind on the North Olympic Peninsula and features three different fire attack modules inside replicating a couch fire, a kitchen fire, and a long hallway fire. Because the burn props use propane which burn clean, the trailer is considered an environmentally sustainable fire training tool preventing atmospheric and ground contamination from carbon. There is an elevated section of the trailer with an interior stairwell to practice basement fire attack along with an on board smoke generation system. Smoke and hot gases are present at structure fires so the trailer has an elevated roof simulator that can be cut by trainees to let out the smoke. Often firefighters need to force entry into structures to fight fire or conduct rescues so the trailer has an interior reinforced doorway which can withstand hundreds of times being battered.  Because commercial buildings have standpipes and fire sprinkler system the trailer comes equipped with these same features so fire engine operators get practice pumping into these systems before actually facing a commercial fire. This has not been available to our engine operators previously, said Phillips. Moreover, firefighters will get real life hands on practice connecting attack lines to standpipes and advancing them up and down stairwells to the seat of the fire he added.

SIMULATOR USES STATE OF THE ART TECHNOLOGY
At the heart of the fire training simulator is a control panel similar to a computer touch screen called the Program Logic Controller or PLC. The PLC interfaces with a wireless hand held control device which fire instructors take with them inside the burn cell of the trailer. With the wireless controller the instructor can select which prop ignites and the intensity level, operate the smoke generation system and in the event of an emergency can press a button that automatically shuts down all burners and activates an emergency exhaust system to evacuate heat and smoke from the trailer. In addition, there are four “Emergency Stops” located around the trailer that a firefighter can press which function the same way. Once the emergency stop is pressed it cannot be reset without a full evaluation of the system. Inside the trailer are two temperature sensing devices to prevent extremely high temperatures from escalating out of control. A typical temperature at ceiling level after a couple of training burns will reach 1,000 to 1,100 degrees. We try to keep the operating temperature where firefighters are crawling low to the floor at 500 degrees or less said Phillips. If temperatures rise above that we will shut down the fire and allow it to cool off for a while. “It’s not about sending firefighters into extreme heat; it is about enhancing skills in a realistic yet safe fire environment”. Gas accumulation could also be a safety concern so two gas detectors are wired into the control panel so when a 25% level of propane gas is detected the emergency system is activated and the gas is automatically exhausted out of the structure. “This is as sophisticated of a computerized safety and control system as you will find any-place in the world” according to Phillips.
 
REGIONAL FIRE TRAINING ASSET
The Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue fire training simulator will be made available to partner agencies of the fire district for use in training their personnel once inter-local agreements for use and maintenance are established.  The unit was constructed in Corona, CA by Fireblast Global and is their Fire Flash II model. Fireblast factory representatives trained 22 local fire instructors recently on how to properly use the systems and perform pre-use and post-use safety inspections on the simulator.

Clallam County Fire District 2 provides fire suppression and emergency medical service to 9,500 people over 85 square miles outside the City of Port Angeles. Forty volunteer and four full-time firefighter/EMTs respond to an average of 1,000 emergency calls per year. Clallam County Fire District 2 is debt free, operates under a balanced budget, and has the lowest tax rate of any full service fire district in the county.

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