FLINT TWP. — Area firefighters had their first lessons last week working with a Mobile Fire Training Facility collectively purchased with help from a federal grant awarded earlier this year.
The training unit consists of two 40- foot trailers containing crawl tunnels, an enclosed staircase, a confidence maze, burn room, smoke machines and other fire training features inside a 1,487 square-foot space. It will eliminate the need to burn down buildings by providing practice training in a safer, controlled environment.
It will be stored at the Flint Township fire station, but travel throughout the county for use by participating departments and the Genesee County Fire Academy.
The unit arrived in Flint Township about a month ago, but there was a delay in getting trainers here from the American Fire Training Systems to provide initial training, said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Burkley.
About 24 firefighters from 10 area departments attended the all-day training session on Saturday to learn the safety ropes from firefighters based in Oklahoma City and Chicago.
The two-part training included four controlled burns inside the trailer including how to extinguish them.
Computers monitored temperatures inside the trailer which got up to 850 degrees on the first burn, but was kept at 650 degrees after that because it was hot outside, Burkley said.
Firefighters kept hydrated and there were no incidences, he said.
Burkley also provided a financial update on the purchase of the unit.
A $142,264 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant covered 80 percent of the cost.
Corporate donations were sought and local fire departments chipped in to help raise the $36,777 needed for the local 20 percent match.
Matching funds collected included $5,000 each from the Genesee County Fire Chiefs Association and the Genesee County Firefighter Training Committee and contributions of $1,950 each from participating fire departments including Atlas Township, Burton, Davison, Grand Blanc, Linden, Fenton, Flint, Swartz Creek and Mundy Township.
Burkley reported that a $2,727 balance includes a $1000 pledge soon to be collected from one fire department, leaving only $,1727 outstanding.
Burkley also said plans are being made to host an Open House Media Day to show off the new trainer to the public before it moves to its next training site in Clio.