When first responders like the members of the Kenai Fire Department need to keep up on their training, they practice battling blazes and executing rescues on several “props” at the Beacon Occupational Health and Safety Services Training Center in Kenai.
The center houses a prop building, two aircraft props and two other simulators which groups like Kenai Fire, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and BP use to train employees for emergencies. Members of the Kenai Fire Department renewed their Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting training in February, led by Kenai Fire Marshal Tommy Carver.
Carver often teaches training or controls drills for first responders. In the center’s prop building used to train firefighters on structure fires and rescue scenarios, Carver said walls or other obstacles are created for participants to break through.
“We often build stuff just to tear it apart,” he said. “It is a blast … 25 years and I still look forward to coming to work.”
Trainees perform rescue drills blindfolded, Carver said, and have to feel their way around obstacles to complete the simulation. One room in the building used to rescue and structure fire training has moveable walls, so that whoever is controlling the drill can restructure the room between exercises to keep participants on their toes, he said.
The props most often used for training by Kenai Fire are the aircraft, Carver said, especially the one that simulates an exterior fire. On the other aircraft prop, trainees can practice putting out fires from the cockpit to the wheel brakes, the latter being the most common cause for aircraft fires, Carver said.
The aircraft props are also used quite a bit by the Department of Transportation, he said.
“At the remote airports, the equipment operators are also responders,” Carver said.
The Beacon simulators have also attracted first responders from Whitehorse, Canada and California who have made the trip to retrain, said Site Supervisor Kelly Gifford.
When staff train with the aircraft props, it never fails that the fire department will get calls from worried residents who have seen the smoke, Carver said. Other than certain annual requirements, he said training at the center goes year-round for members of the Kenai Fire Department.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.