- Cullman, Alabama

July 21, 2013

Firefighters gain experience in searing heat of simulated training

By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times

HANCEVILLE — Hanceville firefighters have been hacking through roofs, descending into basement fires and rescuing fallen comrades from blazes this week.

No, there hasn’t been an outbreak of house fires in the city, just simulated fire training sessions inside an Alabama Fire College trailer at the Hanceville fire station. Since arriving Monday, firefighters have been brushing up on their firefighting skills inside the 60-foot-long mobile training simulator where temperatures can reach up to 700 degrees.

A handful of Hanceville firefighters took turns dousing flames created by propane gas burners at each end of the trailer. Smoke poured out of the doors when training operator Mike Hill, a driver engineer with Cullman Fire & Rescue, opened them after a drill.

“Firefighters are trained to stay low in a fire because the smoke rises and you can’t see anything,” Hill said. “This reinforces that training.”

Inside, metal walls can be repositioned to fit various fire scenarios and simulate different walkways within a building. A landing on top of the trailer allows firefighters to walk down a stairway to practice fighting basement fires or drop down through a hatch in the roof to battle a blaze inside.

Hill manned the controls for the simulator this week, safe behind a glass window where he can watch exercises. If something happens during a drill, the operator can hit a “kill switch” at the control panel or training firefighters can shut it down with buttons inside, Hill said.

“It’s an outstanding piece of equipment, and we’re glad we’ve had it this week to do this training,” said Mike Butler, Hanceville Fire training officer.

Hanceville held drills again Thursday evening, followed by Garden City, Trimble and Colony fire departments.

 “This is a great resource for the smaller departments to train,” Hill said.

He said the Alabama Fire College has two mobile fire training trailers that it sends around the state upon request.

Tiffeny Owens can be reached at or 256-734-2131, ext. 135.