Eye On Boise

No funds for Idaho to get its own fire simulator

A live fire training simulator can get up to 1200 degrees in side, simulating conditions in an actual house fire. This simulator, borrowed from Wendover, Nev., was being used to train volunteer firefighters in Boise, 1/30/09. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has rejected a budget request for Idaho to buy its own training simulator. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
A live fire training simulator can get up to 1200 degrees in side, simulating conditions in an actual house fire. This simulator, borrowed from Wendover, Nev., was being used to train volunteer firefighters in Boise, 1/30/09. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has rejected a budget request for Idaho to buy its own training simulator. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Inside a live fire training simulator, which is the size of a semi-truck trailer but taller, it's smokey, it's slick, it's dark and it's ominous. It's also a crucial training tool for firefighters. A model of a couch smokes and catches fire; so does a stove. Stairways, doorways,  and corners offer training opportunities that mimic the real conditions in a house fire.

Currently, Idaho volunteers are making use of a borrowed simulator from Wendover, Nev., which has been parked outside the Capitol Annex for the past two days as volunteer firefighters from around the state use it for training - and show state lawmakers how they do it. The state Division of Professional-Technical Education, which provides resources for the training of emergency personnel across the state, requested that Idaho get one of its own next year. "The National Fire Protection Association standard for firefighter qualification was updated in 2002 and now requires the ability to provide live-fire training and testing," the division wrote in a budget request. "This line item would provide one-time funds for the purchase of a mobile live-fire training and testing unit."

The cost: $708,000 in one-time funds to purchase the unit next year. It would also cost an estimated $264,700 in ongoing funds the following year for operating costs, including fuel, maintenance, supplies and instructional costs. In the current budget climate, the governor's response isn't surprising: He recommended zero funding for the item. Meanwhile, North Idaho volunteer firefighters are excited that the Wendover unit will be coming up to Worley in September, giving them a chance at the live-fire training.




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