CANON CITY – It’s a 53-foot-long trailer, powered by a generator, and it’s much more than a semi-truck payload.
The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s Mobile Live Fire Training Unit is in Canon City this week for hands-on, high-tech training in structure firefighting.
Caleb Wilson is one of the dozens of Canon City firefighters taking part in this week’s training.
“Here in Canon, we don’t get a lot of fires. So anytime you can go into a heated environment with flame, we enjoy it. And with a controlled setting like it is, it’s very beneficial,” Wilson said.
The Canon City Area Fire Protection District is hosting the trailer at Station One for training all week along side the department’s mutual aid partners, like Penrose and Florence.
Using propane, instructors can initiate a scenario similar to a structure fire with real flames and smoke. It’s a training opportunity rural fire departments rarely get, according to Canon City Fire Lt. Shane Roberts.
“We do not have a dedicated training facility, neither does Florence or Penrose or any of eastern Fremont County,” Roberts said. “So having a facility like this come to us actually allows us to have the same kind of training that much larger metro area facilities have.”
Perhaps the most important features on the trailer, though, are focused on safety.
It includes emergency turn-off switches should something go wrong.
“In the event of a problem in there, with one throw of a button, moving one switch and there’s safeties all throughout… If anybody hits the stop buttons, the fire goes out,” Roberts said. “The fans come on, and it cools off immediately.”
The trailer also includes cameras inside, so instructors can watch what’s happening in real time. Then, firefighters like Wilson can go back, review the tape and truly critique their work.
“It’s very beneficial. Not too many times you get to go back and press rewind and see what went on inside,” Wilson said.
Roberts said this week’s training will be open to dozens of fire departments across southern Colorado, as the firefighters take advantage of top-notch training right in their backyard.
“We can read about it in books. We can study. We can do all of these things, but until you are actually inside a structure that’s dark, that’s smoky, that has some fire in front of you.. It’s a completely different animal,” Roberts said.