East Texas firefighters try out virtual fire panels for training, community outreach

East Texas firefighters try out virtual fire panels for training, community outreach

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - East Texas firefighters got a hands-on experience with some of the latest fire training technology. A trailer fully equipped with virtual firefighting equipment was set up at the Longview Training Facility so experienced firefighters from around the area could test it out.

Firefighters feel they can never get enough training, which is why they tend to train several times a month. Ray Perez-Pearson with LION, a company that makes firefighting gear and training equipment, feels their equipment provides a very real scenario.

"Inside the trailer you'll find we're showing our digital fire experience. So it's an opportunity for firefighters to train with the seat of the fire without having to be exposed to live fire," Perez-Pearson said.

He says firefighters are exposed to carcinogens in training as well as in real firefighting situations.

"By utilizing digital fire, you don't expose them to those carcinogens, but you still get safe, effective training," Perez-Pearson stated.

The smoke is water-based, and the interactive digital fire panels obviously don't contain real fire.

"The panel responds to a digital nozzle, but it also responds to a hand line directly off of the truck," Perez-Pearson said.

Which means they can use a real fire hose if they choose.

"And they're going to be able to apply water and practice hose line management techniques," Perez-Pearson said.

Longview Fire Captain Cory Clanton says it seems to be a useful tool.

"They get a fairly legit experience with fire rolling over their heads and a smoky environment," Clanton said.

LION also carries digital fire extinguishers that could even be used to train the public. And they have a full-sized car replica which burns and re-burns with propane.

"Firefighters can come in and engage that fire and put it out as if they were encountering a car fire on the highway," Perez-Pearson stated.

"Something like this could travel around and create a training venue for a lot of different places, and that's just really hard to beat," Clanton added.

There is even a fire alarm pull and phone for calling 911 so you can get the experience without setting off a false alarm. Practicing that on a real system is, after all, severely frowned upon.

City leaders will be taking a look at the equipment to see if it's something they'll consider purchasing as another tool for ongoing training.

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