BUCKHANNON — On Thursday, February 3, WVU Fire Service Extension partnered with the Buckhannon Fire department to bring the burn truck to Upshur County. The burn simulator gives firefighters the opportunity to train in a controlled environment that provides real life experience for trainees and existing fireman. Firefighters from Buckhannon Fire Department, Washington District Volunteer Fire Department and Banks District Volunteer Fire Department were in attendance, along with visiting firefighters from Elkins Fire Department.
Matthew Reed, Program Coordinator with WVU Fire Service Extension, explained, “The unit travels throughout the state and provides various scenarios for training which leads to certification for fireman.” When questioned about how such a program gets funded, he noted, “This particular unit was about $580,000 and was funded by federal grants.”
“This unit is as close as you can get to an actual live fire,” Linn Baxa, Buckhannon Fire Captain, reported. He also summarized that the unit requires a minimum of five people to operate. One person operates the control room, there are also two to three instructors present and another safety person outside the unit. Baxa also noted the unit is complete with rescue mannequins that act as victims inside the burn truck.
Washington District Volunteer Fire Lieutenant Brandon Daft said, “This unit helps us to hone our skills.” Additionally, he reported, “This truck is beneficial to the rural departments. We can travel 30 minutes for our training instead of two hours.”
“Having this mobile unit cuts down on our time away from our departments,” Elkins firefighter Jacob Judy stated. “This is also beneficial because it allows you to use all your senses just like in a real fire and build teamwork with your fellow rescuers.”
It was also noted among those in attendance that there is a statewide and nationwide shortage of firemen both volunteered and paid. A consensus was also made that the burn simulation truck may provide more interest in the field. Due to technical difficulties, training was moved to Friday, February 4 and Saturday, February 5.