By Beth Lawrence
Jackson County first responders will have a new option to educate the public about fire and disaster safety next year.
The Board of Commissioners approved $169,434 in funding to cover the cost of a Smart Fire Safety Training Trailer at its regular meeting Dec. 17. The money to fund the project is covered by a school safety grant and FEMA disaster assistance monies.
“We’ve tried multiple times to find funding for it with federal and local grants,” Fire Marshal Michael Forbis told commissioners at a planning session earlier this month.
The trailer is more than the old smoke trailers that simulated a fire and taught people to stay low and get out. The interactive trailer is approximately the size of a tiny house and features a full kitchen and bedroom.
Users can create scenarios for different participants and teach first graders to crawl to safety or make a 911 call or teach adults to put out a kitchen fire.
It is “set up in three different layers,” Forbis said. “The first layer is in the kitchen and there’s interactive tools where you can teach people about different size fires, cooking safety. There’s a weather component that has a weather radio and it talks about weather safety.”
The outcome of each scenario depends on the decisions made by participants.
The trailer is also equipped to teach factory workers industrial safety.
Forbis is waiting for an updated quote from the company LION Group Inc. Once a final purchase order is approved and the order placed, the unit should be delivered in about six months. Forbis’ goal is to have the unit ready to go by fall.
“The goal is delivery in August,” he said. “We will have a training session on operation of the unit, and then we will be ready to go.”
Forbis estimates that local fire departments reach well over 2,000 children per year with their safety programs.