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LRAFB Fire Station gets innovative with HERKWERX

  • Published
  • By Airman Julian Atkins
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department recently obtained a fire truck pump panel simulator using innovation funds. The simulator allows Airmen to train on specialized emergency response skills more efficiently and safely than before.

The new simulator provides many benefits including more cost-effective on-the-job training while utilizing reduced manpower and training resources. The pump simulator allows the firefighters to prepare and practice reactions to scenarios they might encounter in an emergency and train the way they fight in a controlled environment.

“The simulator is an awesome capability that allows us to train and safely make mistakes while learning,” said Airman 1st Class Gabriel King, 19th CES firefighter. “Before we purchased the simulator we would have to go out on the trucks, which takes up a lot of time and manpower, but now we can walk into the simulator and immediately start training.”

The pump simulator allows Airmen to train and focus on lever operation, deployment of the compressed air foam system, improve overall muscle memory and increase familiarity with the truck panel.

Without having to utilize real fire trucks, the simulator can conduct training at a much quicker pace allowing the department to be more flexible with their training schedule.

“We can run through an entire training evolution in 10 or 15 minutes here with one Airman,” said Jonathan Hall, 19th CES assistant chief of training. “Before it would take 45 minutes to an hour.”

The $125,000 simulator was purchased with the help of innovation funds from the HERKWERX Innovation Lab and the 19th Mission Support Group.

“We were able to work with HERKWERX and the 19th MSG to secure a total of $125,000 to purchase this item,” Hall said. “$100,000 of it came from HERKWERX and the other $25,000 came from the 19th MSG. We have benefited greatly with our partnership with HERKWERX and we’re continuing to work with them on other projects as well.”

The simulator gives firefighters an authentic training experience that includes all the lights, horns, sirens and vibrations a firefighter would experience during a real-world emergency, but at a much lower cost of previous on-the-job training.

“This piece of equipment is really just a big computer,” Hall said. “This will last us for 10-15 years, which essentially breaks down to only $10,000 in training costs a year—whereas using this capability is priceless.”

Unlike an actual fire engine pump that requires thousands of gallons of water to operate, the simulator does not require water, which reduces the impact to the environment.

In addition to the environmental benefits of saving water, the simulator also saves on the wear and tear of the fire department’s vehicles.

“If our fire trucks were to go out and conduct training and get damaged in the process, it can cost upwards of $100,000 to repair,” Hall said. “The truck that this imitates runs around $500,000 new, so they're not cheap vehicles and they're not easy to get either. If we break one, we don't have a replacement.”

Thanks to the help of the HERKWERX Innovation Lab, LRAFB firefighters can now troubleshoot and train in a controlled environment while saving the Air Force thousands of dollars a year.

HERKWERX exists to aid innovation initiatives by providing resources, guidance and connections necessary to bring innovative ideas to life throughout LRAFB.

If you have an innovative idea or concept, contact the HERKWERX Innovation Lab at (501) 987-WERX or HERKWERX@us.af.mil.