Air Force firefighters train for sub-zero temperatures with simulator

Eielson AFB firefighters, who are located less than 200 miles from the Arctic Circle, are using a Pump Ops Simulator to train without damaging equipment


By FireRescue1 Staff

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — Air Force firefighters in Alaska are using a simulator to train for sub-zero temperatures without damaging hoses or fire trucks.

According to a press release, the Eielson AFB is less than 200 miles away from the Arctic Circle, and can experience temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.

The Pump Ops Simulator allows firefighters to train without putting them or their equipment in danger. (Photo/Air Force)
The Pump Ops Simulator allows firefighters to train without putting them or their equipment in danger. (Photo/Air Force)

The firefighters train in sub-zero temperatures, but Fire Chief Sgt. Joseph Cappel said they can only train in temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

“These conditions are vicious; it makes training difficult. If the temperatures drop below negative 10 [degrees] it becomes a safety concern for our Airmen and we risk damaging our own hoses and trucks,” he said.

The Pump Ops Simulator allows firefighters to train without putting them or their equipment in danger.

The full-size simulator replicates a fire engine pump panel with realistic electronic sensors and sound effects and allows firefighters to practice troubleshooting.

“[The simulator] is very realistic; we worked with the manufacturer to get the pump tailored to match our equipment here at Eielson,” Sgt. Cappel said. “You can essentially become a pump ops master with this.”

Eielson is the first fire department in the Air Force and the state of Alaska to use the simulator, but it could be beneficial for other departments.

“The simulator isn’t just beneficial for those of us in cold climates. We've received calls from departments from all over the U.S. and Canada wanting to know more about it. They recognize that the [Pump Ops Simulator] is a great supplement to fire pump training, regardless of the weather,” Assistant Fire Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Lopardi said. “We have this simulator for one reason, because it helps us get better and stay proficient at our jobs. That’s what matters most to us, that we’re prepared for any call at any time.”

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