Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fire in the hole

Nothing brings a smile to my face like an email from a Tracy Fire department division chief inviting me to photograph flames during a training session.

Tracy Fire took possession of a new flashover simulator they will use to train new and old fire crews with live fire drills. Consisting of a 40-foot-long steel trailer it contains a fire and allows crews to feel the heat, smoke and near zero visibility conditions they will face in a real structure fire.

Not being able to burn abandoned house or structures for training has been a problem for crews but the new trailer will allow them to train any number of crews in the trailer whose fire is fueled by wood pallets and particle board located at one end of the trailer.

Not having a breathing apparatus and fireproof camera my shooting is pretty much limited to the outside actions of the trailer. I did manage to squeeze in to the back of the trailer with fire crews as they get a quick lecture on the fire dynamics and how the trailer works. I manage to get a couple cool photos of the fire rolling up the ceiling of the trailer before the smoke gets to think for me to shoot and I have to retreat.

Overall it was a fun assignment and I keep thinking one day I will have talk myself into a set of turnouts and breathing gear for a closer look at the fire. Now if I could just find an asbestos camera I would be set!

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