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Fire school welcomes first responders for industrial fire training

Posted on by SST

Once a year, the little town of Bryan-College, Texas, is overrun with firefighters from across the U.S. to receive critical training that will aide them in the fighting of chemical and industrial fires.

The college's newspaper The Eagle reported the week-long training period composed of firefighting classes will be conducted at the Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station, Texas, run by the Industrial Fire School hosted by Texas A&M University's Engineering Extension (TEEX). An estimated 2,500 volunteer and municipal firefighters from across the nation will receive training on numerous firefighting situations. Firefighters receive lessons on how to use tools for automobile extraction and fire fighting techniques used in industrial settings with interior and chemical-related fires.

"It's very important [to get this training] because 70 to 80 percent of firefighters are volunteers," said Brian Blake, communications director for TEEX. "It's really essential that they receive the training and have the tools when they're called upon."

While most of the firefighters are traveling to College Station from within Texas, firefighters have traveled from as far away as Pennsylvania to receive the TEEX training, noted Blake. In addition to fire fighting and fire suppression classes, training will also be offered regarding fire investigations.

For instance, Merrie Noak, the fire chief of the local Brazos County District 2 Volunteer Fire Department, will learn about investigative and evidence gathering tactics along with a few of her colleagues. Noak said she hopes her staff can learn from the wealth of information that experienced instructors bring to the table.

"We've seen some tremendous events in our community because of the tremendous sacrifices [of volunteer and municipal firefighters], so I hope the community will take the opportunity [July 24] to learn more," Blake added.

The use of technology
Due to weather constraints, some firefighters continued to battle blazes in the virtual world. Using the Emergency Operations Training Center, firefighters took turns moving around in a digital refinery, assessing the situation and making decisions to extinguish the fire just as they would in real life. The training, being offered to 12 firefighters from various companies, is intended to boost firefighting knowledge regarding oil rig and refinery fires as well as chemical manufacturing facilities that pose additional dangers and challenges.

"It's video game technology, but we're using it to develop skills and techniques," said Jason Moats, program director with TEEX. "They're doing a lot of thinking here because these are the folks who direct [the firefighters]."

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