Sep 142012

A file photo from the simulator company.

Each year, hundreds of visitors check out the smoke trailer on display in the Orange Volunteer Fire Department’s area of the Orange Country Fair.

The trailer fills up with theatrical smoke and a representative from the fire marshal’s office teaches children and adults how to react and save themselves in a smoke-filled room.

This weekend there will be no smoke trailer, but Fire Marshal Tim Smith is confident everyone will enjoy the virtual fire extinguisher training simulator.

Many people have fire extinguishers in their homes — the question is, do they know how to use one?

Even firefighters have to learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher, and as part of the fire marshal’s public education duties, the virtual fire extinguisher simulator will make their job quite a bit easier.

“We’ll be able to teach the proper technique without having to build a fire in a barrel,” Smith said. “This equipment can go anywhere, schools, the community center, library, public events, and it’s perfectly safe and very effective and there’s no mess associated with chemical extinguishers.”

There is more to using a fire extinguisher than pointing it and pulling the trigger. One must know how to aim and sweep the extinguisher in order to put out a fire.

Smith explained that the realistic digital flames respond like an actual fire would.

“If you aim and sweep properly, the flames react and go lower, as would a real fire,” he said. “But if you aren’t hitting it right, the flames shoot up again.”

The trainer can choose a class A, B, or C fire at different levels of difficulty and the trainees must pay attention and change their technique accordingly.

For example, “when set to Class B, the flames quickly flash back up if the trainee doesn’t sweep quickly enough. Class A fires are more likely to rekindle after the initial extinguishment,” according to the company website.

So look for the fire department/police department/CERT/Emergency Management corner and have some fun with fire extinguishers and maybe even learn a new skill.

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