Donations help department launch sustainable extinguisher training
Councilman Joe Zerwas, Pastor Mike Haseltine and Fairview Lakes Auxiliary President Jenny Mayer helped put out a fire at Wyoming City Hall on Monday.
The excitement in the fire garage was under the careful supervision of Fire Chief J.J. Hastings and Fire Training Officer Jason Van Tassel. Thanks to new technology and donations from the community, their department was launching a fire extinguisher training program.
The program is now available at no cost to groups in the city.
“Fire extinguishers are the single most effective way to prevent a small accident from becoming a major emergency,” Hastings said. “Early, effective fire extinguisher use is the key. The problem is not many people have experience using them, and we are going to change that.”
Finding a solution
Demand for hands-on fire extinguisher training is nothing new, but the Fire Department previously had no affordable way of providing it, as extinguishers cost about $25 to refill.
“We’ve used conventional fire extinguishers for years, but we had to work on a way to make it more economical and ecological,” Hastings said.
Enter the BullEx Intelligent Training System, a prop that creates a contained fire using only water, propane and electricity.
“It’s extremely safe and we can bring it just about anywhere,” Van Tassel said. “It’s as cutting-edge as you can get for simulated fire training.”
Donations from Rosenbauer America, Fairview Lakes Auxiliary, Meadows on Fairview and Maranatha Assembly of God covered nearly the entire bill for the Wyoming Fire Department.
“They were great,” Hastings said. “I showed them our vision for the training program and they filled our needs. We are very fortunate to have so much support.”
The device will be the cornerstone of the new community outreach program, which was given a trial run Monday. Hastings gave a brief overview of fire safety, including tips for a safe household, the classes of fires and the extinguishers classified to fight them.
Participants learned the “PASS” method for using extinguishers properly: Pull the pin, aim, squeeze, sweep. Then they were off to the garage for hands-on practice.
Their foe was formidable. The BullEx device’s four sensors detect aiming and sweeping motions and vary the flame in response. Three classes of fires can be simulated, at four difficulty levels.
Despite some minor speed bumps – Haseltine was surprised to learn it is best to hold the extinguisher with the non-dominant hand and aim the hose with the dominant one – program attendees passed with flying colors. The firefighters even joked that they had some extra uniforms laying around.
Participants felt the 30-minute program was well worth their time.
“It really teaches you so much in just a few minutes,” Mayer said.
The fire training is now available, free of charge, to businesses and organizations in the city of Wyoming. It will be given to Wyoming Elementary’s staff and sixth-graders this spring, then repeated there each fall. Chief Hastings said the program falls under the department’s responsibility to educate the public on fire safety and emergency preparation.
“We have to form a strong working relationship with our community,” he said. “The more we are able to work together to fill our mutual public safety needs, the better.”
Those interested in the training should email [email protected] or contact the department on its Facebook page.