Training for the public in how to effectively use a fire extinguisher has gone high tech in Jamestown, according to Sheldon Mohr, training officer for the Jamestown Fire Department.
"It is a teaching tool on how to correctly use a fire extinguisher," he said. "It is for schools, businesses and the general public."
The training tool comes in two parts: a screen that simulates a fire and an extinguisher that projects a beam of light on the screen to show where the chemicals of a real fire extinguisher would strike the fire.
The device cost about $15,000 and was purchased by department volunteers from the proceeds of their annual benefit pancake breakfast held at the fire hall during White Cloud Days. The event has been held for the past nine years.
Sarah Hellekson, Jamestown city administrator, said the simulator was not something the city contemplated including in its budget. Its purchase by the volunteers improves the training the city fire department can provide.
"The volunteers stepped up," she said. "They do that quite a bit in this community."
Mohr said the fire extinguisher simulator is designed to teach people to aim the stream of water or chemicals from the extinguisher at the base of the fire rather than into the flames above the fire's source.
The simulator times how long it would have taken to actually extinguish the fire with the proper application of the fire extinguisher.
Previously, the department sometimes used a water-filled extinguisher pointed at a cone or bucket to demonstrate where to aim a fire extinguisher. A trainer from the fire department would then tell the person if he or she was aiming too high or low at the fire.
Because the demonstration used water, it was commonly only done during warmer weather and often out in the parking lot of the business.
"This is the same idea," he said, "but if you don't do it correctly, the fire on the screen won't go out."
Mohr said the proper use of a fire extinguisher early can sometimes prevent a fire from becoming more serious and can save property.
Training with the fire extinguisher simulator is available through the fire department for schools, businesses or clubs, Mohr said.
"We'll use it as part of the Teen CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training that is coming up," he said.
The Teen CERT program trains high school freshmen how to respond in emergency situations and is an annual program.