CRANE HILL —
With engine lights flashing in the parking lot, and smoke billowing from a trailer in very close proximity to the Crane Hill Fire Department, it looked to passersby like a serious situation was transpiring.
Luckily, for everyone's sake, it was only a drill, as local firefighters from several different departments participated in a training exercise.
"It's pretty awesome," said Cody Bice, who is a firefighter with the Bethsadia volunteer fire department. "It's important to have this type training because it helps teach ‘interior’ firefighting, as well as refreshes your memory of things learned in previous training."
The simulator, otherwise known as the Burn Trailer, is an 18 wheeler equipped with several propane burners capable of getting temperatures to 850 degrees, and movable metal walls and doors that provide several scenarios that might be encountered while responding to a structure fire. It's part of a service provided by the Alabama Fire College located in Tuscaloosa.
"Not only did I want it here for our guys (Crane Hill), but I wanted it for the whole county to use as well," said Brandon Williams, chief of the Crane Hill volunteer Fire Department. "I felt it was good to get it in our county and invite everybody to come out for training and to refresh their skills."
The trailer rolled into the area early last week. Several of the participating agencies included Crane Hill, Bremen, Arkadelphia, Bethsadia, Loretto, Logan, Jones Chapel, Curry, Trimble, and Helicon. Williams said because it's such a popular learning tool for departments across the state, he had to book months in advance just to get it brought to Cullman County.
"It stays booked," Williams said. "That's how vital this thing is."
Jonathan Eubanks, also with the Crane Hill department, added that, with everyone who participated, the training also allowed for a good teamwork exercise.
"A lot of times, people don't realize that we have to call on other departments for help," Eubanks said. "We've had three fires in the past two weeks where we've had to do that, so this just allows the chance to learn how to work with one another better."
With all of the positive feedback he's gotten, Williams is hoping he'll be able to score getting the trailer back to Cullman next year.
"So far, everybody has said they want to come back," he said. "I think a lot of people really learned a lot and had fun."
Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org