The heat is on
by Ron Harris
Apr 22, 2014 | 1687 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama Fire College instructor Bill Roberts prepares to enter the mobile training unit that is being used this week by the Jasper Fire Department to train firefighters. The unit is self-contained and when lit on fire, temperatures can exceed 800 degrees inside, Jasper Fire Chief David Clark said. – Photos by: Ron Harris.
Alabama Fire College instructor Bill Roberts prepares to enter the mobile training unit that is being used this week by the Jasper Fire Department to train firefighters. The unit is self-contained and when lit on fire, temperatures can exceed 800 degrees inside, Jasper Fire Chief David Clark said. – Photos by: Ron Harris.
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Jasper firefighters are hoping to improve their skills at fighting fires this week with a little help from the Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Fire College.

The fire college’s mobile live-burn simulator is in Jasper for the next few days for Jasper firefighters to utilize as a way to sharpen their skills when it comes to entering burning structures.

“It’s like a mobile burning building,” said Jasper Fire Chief David Clark, who stood by as Jasper firefighters took turns entering the simulator. Clark said he’ll get his turn at the simulator later today.

The simulator is used across the state to assist fire departments in training firefighters how to safely enter burning structures. Clark said his department has been on a waiting list trying to book the simulator since November.

“You get to have actual fire scenarios,” Clark said. “That’s the best thing about this.”

Bill Roberts, an instructor at the Alabama Fire College, travels with the simulator helping train firefighters.

Clark said Roberts can start the unit and simulate several scenarios that occur daily around the country.

“He can simulate an oven fire or a rollover fire where the flames roll over us as we enter the building,” Clark said.

Clark said EPA regulations have limited fire departments in ways they can train. Departments used to hold controlled burnings of old structures as a way to train their firefighters.

“We can’t really do the live fire burnings any more without having to strip so many things out of the homes and buildings,” Clark said. “This simulator is an efficient way to do the training, and it’s not costly to the department.”

Clark said all the Jasper department had to provide was the propane gas used in the fires in the simulator. “That’s all it cost us,” he said.

All 29 members of the Jasper Fire Department will go through the simulator over the next couple of days, Clark said, and receive certification for their training.

“Even though we do quite a bit of firefighting, we can go through this in a controlled atmosphere and work on different techniques,” he said. “After we get through here, we’ll have training for a couple of weeks on what we learned, what we didn’t learn and what we could do different.

“This is the most dangerous part of our job, going in houses we’ve never been in before when it’s on fire and you can’t see because visibility is zero,” he added. “This is important training for us.”

Clark said he’s appreciative of the support his department receives from Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey and members of the Jasper City Council.

“They are great about providing us with what we need to train,” Clark said.