Firefighter Training, Firefighting

Fire Engineering Simulations: It’s Your Call

By Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton
CLICK HERE to try our new simulation feature. (Note: Adobe Flash Player required.)

Firefighters have used simulation as a training tool for generations, with sidewalk charcoal recreations, chalkboards, and colored sand demonstrations. Now in the digital age, we have highly dynamic graphics and realistic photo enhancements. Today’s interactive and intuitive simulation programs with ever higher fidelity and quality should improve the results instructors see on the fireground. There are different types of fireground simulation products for every computer skill level and budget.

The Phoenix Fire Department pioneered the current gold standard full recreation simulations, in which firefighters can sit in different apparatus and use department radios during simulation training. This full-context approach is modeled on the aircraft simulators used to train military and civilian pilots. Such tools have greatly increased the safety and effectiveness of the aviation industry. The goal is same for the fire service: improve operational and tactical effectiveness.

The use of simulation is designed to supplement a person’s experience, and augment the number of events he has attended and the variety of environments he has encountered. Fireground operations can be recreated and common or less frequent issues can be introduced to help increase a firefighter’s experiences. Realistic simulations can aid in increasing a crew member’s ability to read smoke conditions, identify building construction, communicate over the radio, identify problems, and increase confidence and capabilities. Although we are still a long way from the realistic depictions multimillion-dollar aviation simulators offer, perhaps the seeds have been planted.

One could only hope that funding will be found for a state-of-the-art, full-context, high-fidelity simulator at our National Fire Academy (NFA), where simulations have been used for over a decade to train incident commanders. No institution is more deserving of the funding or could put such a simulator to better use than the NFA. I hope our return to the FEMA director’s oversight will improve the funding and support of America’s Training Academy.

Fire Engineering is honored to post this first simulation lesson for your use and experience. We are thankful to our friends Frank Montagna and Anthony Rubino for their efforts in producing this simulation. We invite all simulation creators and manufacturers to contact us so we can feature your work as well. We know fire service professionals everywhere will appreciate and welcome your efforts

CLICK HERE to try out our new training simulation feature.