NY will offer statewide virtual firefighting course

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 December 2016 at 10:35 pm
File photo by Tom Rivers: Two firefighters battle smoke at a fire on Phipps Road in Albion on Sept. 19, 2014.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Two firefighters battle smoke at a fire on Phipps Road in Albion on Sept. 19, 2014.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control will be offering specialized virtual training exercises to fire officers across the state beginning in January.

The course will teach fire officers – crew leaders in charge of teams of firefighters that are responding to an emergency situation – how to make split second decisions in a virtual environment, safely extinguish fires, safeguard property and save lives.

“In every corner of New York, our brave firefighters put their safety at risk day in and day out to protect their neighbors and their communities,” said Governor Cuomo. “This course will give these first responders, the training, the knowledge and the experience needed to effectively act in emergency situations where every second counts. This is one more step toward a safer and more secure New York for all.”

The 12-hour Tactical Fireground Simulations Course will be held at the state’s Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls, located in Schuyler County as well as in different regions throughout the state. Fire officers will undertake actual live scenario-based fire training by undergoing a hands-on interactive experience. This will be in a setting controlled by instructors who will be teaching correct incident command strategy and tactics.

Beginning next month, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control will begin contacting fire departments across the state to offer this new training as an extension to the current training available to newly positioned fire officers — as well as those veterans needing to maintain their skills. Fire Officers and fire departments interested in this program should contact their county fire coordinator for scheduling information.

“This course helps enhance the existing firefighter and fire officer training offered at the Academy of Fire Science, and it uses innovative gaming technology to reinforce previously learned theories and allows students to practice in the command role,” said John P. Melville, Commissioner, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “This is a great example of using technology to improve the way in which we deliver training to students.”

“We designed this course to help fire officers and incident commanders improve their fire scene decisions to make them more effective and efficient at an emergency,” said Bryant Stevens, State Fire Administrator. “Better decisions during a crisis help reduce firefighter injuries and fatalities. The course was well-received by students and we will use their feedback to improve the experience for future groups.”

Recently, twenty volunteer and career fire officers from across the state, piloted this new computer simulations training that allows them to assess realistic scenarios as an incident commander at a fire emergency scene. As prerequisites, each fire officer had previously completed a Firefighter 1 or equivalent course, as well as various Incident Command System courses.

Following a review of the concepts of proper managerial procedures during an incident, fire officers who would be in a leadership capacity during an actual event practiced their incident command decision-making skills in a series of computer simulations using the latest in gaming technology.

Each of the realistic computer-based scenarios “reacted” to the officer’s decisions and demonstrated the positive or negative results of their decision and how it affected a virtual fire. Course instructors also conducted a post-incident analysis after each scenario to help students understand how to apply best-practices to a fire scene.

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