1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Arlington County, Va

    Post Mobile Firefighter training units w/live burns

    Hello, I am looking to get some feedback and opinions of Training facilities, specificly mobile training units like the one from Fireblast 451. Everything I have read and seen so far looks great but I would love to get some opinions, and ideas from others who either own these types of units or have trained in them with neighboring counties that are not affiliate with the manufacturers. Our Department is currently looking into maybe purchasing one of these in the near future but would need some feedback prior to purchasing. Any help would be greatly appreciated, Thank you.

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Hampton, Virginia

    Default Mobile Fire Trainers

    I've had the opportunity to work with mobile trainers similar to the one from Fireblast 451, and although they meet the minimum training requirements, I still prefer to use old traditional burn houses. Now don't get me wrong, these mobile trainers are very effective depending on what level of training you want, especially if you are state or county agency and want to take the training to your departments that don't have the capability to train in a burn house.

    For example, the Air Force has a few of the structural trainers in place, but unfortunately I found they are limited in several aspects. The first being everything inside is stainless steel and the fuel is propane. I'm not a big fan of using natural gas or propane simply because you the handline crew don't get the response from the fire as you would in a burn house using class A materials. Safety is the number one priority with the mobile fire trainers. I'm a HUGE advocate of safety, however the realism is diminished with propane fueled trainers. Some mobile fire trainer manufactures will disagree with that statement though. With these mobile fire trainers, you the handline crew are dependant upon a safety officer or an opertor in the control cab sending the burn modules feedback (high / low fire, ignition, extinguishment, etc).

    The other aspect that I really dislike is the compartment dimensions. The mobile structural trainers are basically the size of a normal cargo trailer from a semi truck. From the mobile trainers I have worked with, there is little room to move around inside and upon entering the door, you suddenly find yourself ontop of the fire before you have the chance to prepare or your crew is in place.

    The Air Force uses small mobile aircraft fire trainers throughout the world and they are the same design as the structural trainers. They are small, somewhat impractical, limited on fires, dependant on wind direction (we've actually burned up the fuel and electrical lines due to wind shifts) and again, the fire will not go out unless the safety officer releases the "deadman switch" or the control operator extinguishes the fire fom his position.

    One major issue that you need to look at if you are considering purchasing one of these mobile fire trainers is maintenance cost. Fuel is going to be your number one cost. Depending on how much you want to burn, fuel these days can cost you in the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars over the year. The second is annual maintenance / service. The Air Force currently pays $33,000 a year for one trainer. In that cost, the base gets two maintenance visits a year as needed and two site visits. Parts are only included in the cost if it is found the part was not damaged by the operator (basically misuse). However, since the manufacturer is so busy fixing these as some call them expensive paperweights, and there are limited service technicians, the normal service visits are usualy one per year. The normal service problems with the trainer the Air Force utilizes are damaged fuel lines, ignitors not working, fuel leaks (liquid propane), computer malfunctions, etc. As you can see, when you have an advanced piece of technology like a mobile fire trainer, costs can add up before you know it, unlike a traditional burn house.

    Again, I am not saying any mobile fire trainer is worthless. What I am saying is that these trainers do provide training where there is either no training being conducted or the need to take te training on the road is there. Any type of fire training is better than none. I wish you luck in your search for a quality trainer.

  3. #3
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    Edward Hartin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Gresham Oregon

    Default Gas vs. Class A Fuel

    The greatest drawback with gas fired structural props is that you cannot provide a realistic context for learning about fire behavior and receiving accurate feedback from the application of water. Appropriate use of Class A fuel provides a much more realistic and effective training environment.

    Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Bloomington IN


    Contact Jr. at awarehouseonwheels.com
    He is also the owner of American Fire Training Systems. He has built several mobile units, most recently for Caterpillar Corp. w/ class A burn capability. maybe save you some money. We are building a fixed facility with him now, and buying two mobiles next year.
    Last edited by bfdbatt2; 12-05-2007 at 09:45 AM.

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