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A statewide traveling fire-training trailer makes stop in Greater Lafayette

Firefighters of District 4 will take turns using the trailer to practice different real fire scenarios.

Posted: May 19, 2019 6:07 PM
Updated: May 19, 2019 11:40 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A statewide traveling fire-training trailer has made a stop in Greater Lafayette.

Firefighters of District 4 will take turns using the trailer to practice different fire scenarios. On Sunday the West Lafayette Fire Department got to train.

The traveling fire-training trailer is provided through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

“This burn trailer from the state of Indiana, it's fed by gas, the fires are fed by gas in the trailer so it's a controlled environment,” said West Lafayette Fire Lieutenant Ben Jones.

Inside the trailer are objects that simulate a real-life home setting.

“We can do a basement fire, we can do a kitchen fire, a bedroom fire,” said Jones. “There are different props inside that allow us to reconfigure the environment to specific types of fires.”

This training-trailer gives firefighters an opportunity to work with real flames. Something the federal government has regulated.

“The government is trying to clean up the environment and that sort of thing, we have to abide by certain regulations that don't allow us just to go out and burn whatever we want to train with,” said Jones.

Firefighters typically train using a smoke machine, which gives them a sense of how a real fire emergency looks. Training with real fire gives them a sense of how it'll feel.

“The fog machine would be more realistic in the sense that you can't see anything but the heat and stuff isn't there, with this scenario the heat is there with the real fire,” said Jones.

Temperatures rise as high as more than 1,000 degrees in the trailer. Firefighters say it's a very unique training experience.

“It is hot, very hot,” said West Lafayette Firefighter Jon Vanness. “Not very much visibility, you're doing a lot by feel and trying to stay in verbal communication with your partner.”

“We'll get down next to the seed of the fire and we'll just kind of let it go and we'll watch as the gasses build up,” said West Lafayette Firefighter Clayton Zak. “We just use it as learning and watching fire behavior in a controlled safer environment.”

“These are taxpayer dollars at work,” said Jones. “That's why people pay their taxes so that we can do things like this to train to possibly save a life someday.”

The training trailer is currently sitting in a parking lot near South Grant Street. It will be there until Thursday when it moves to another district for training.

Lafayette, Purdue, and various Tippecanoe County volunteer fire departments are also using the trailer for training.

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