HILL AIR FORCE BASE, UT– Earlier this year, Fire and Emergency Services at Hill Air Force Base received three new fire trucks to enhance the department’s ability to respond to fires and other emergencies.
Now, the addition of a new, high-tech pump operations simulator will serve to improve the training base firefighters receive by honing their skills to respond to any number of contingencies.
Master Sgt. Joshua Blair, deputy fire chief, said the purpose of the simulator is to supplement pump training firefighters get on an actual fire engine apparatus.
“The biggest advantage to this trainer is our driver operators have the opportunity to prepare for any emergency scenario and practice malfunctions in a controlled environment,” Blair said.
The $63,000 simulator is designed to function similar to a fire engine pump panel. The trainer is outfitted with realistic components and functionality, and gives firefighters an authentic training experience that includes all the lights, horns, sirens and vibrations a firefighter would experience during a real-world emergency call.
“It’s nice to have a trainer that can run through several different scenarios to help you troubleshoot various problems that may arise on the fire scene,” said Jason Medina, a driver operator. “The gauges and platform that are used on the trainer have the same type of look and feel as you would have on a fire engine, making the experience memorable for the operator.”
Unlike an actual fire engine pump unit that requires thousands of gallons of water to operate, the trainer does not require water, which reduces the impact to the environment.
In addition, it saves on the wear and tear of the department’s vehicles and gives firefighters a safe training tool that can be used year round, including during Utah’s winter months when the water can freeze and prevent the department from training.
Daniel Payne, a fire instructor, said training previously included classroom instruction where they would discuss possible scenarios, and then go outside on the truck and run through it.
However, between the noise of the pump and other distractions, such as freezing temperatures, the training was sometimes challenging. If the pump had an issue, for example, the instructor would have to take over for the student to limit wear and tear on the apparatus.
Payne said the simulator allows him to teach and observe while the students remain fully engaged in training, making it a more valuable experience.
“This is the best simulation of a fire truck pump panel that I’ve seen. The software is seemingly limitless and can be ever evolving,” Payne said.
The simulator was acquired with Squadron Innovation Funds. The funds are allocated each fiscal year across the Air Force and used by commanders to ‘jump start’ innovative ideas that increase readiness, reduce cost, return time back to Airmen or enhance lethality of the force.