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Eielson firefighters drive innovation

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jake Hults, a 354th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, trains on a driving simulator Jan. 25, 2019, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The driving simulator teaches Airmen to drive a fire truck in a multitude of environments and road conditions safely. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Isaac Johnson)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jake Hults, a 354th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, trains on a driving simulator Jan. 25, 2019, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The driving simulator teaches Airmen to drive a fire truck in a multitude of environments and road conditions safely. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Isaac Johnson)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Last week the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department became the first in the Department of Defense to have both pump and driving simulators.
The use of these two items together will allow Eielson firefighters to train in a new and innovative way.
“With this new simulator we are able to train our new Airmen on a variety of equipment no matter the time of year they arrive,” said Marc Hughes, 354th CES assistant fire chief. “The simulator allows us to throw almost any scenario at our drivers.”
In Alaska’s arctic environment, winter road conditions can easily become hazardous, at times making the ability to maneuver safely difficult.
“When our Airmen first get here, they have never driven a fire truck in the conditions we have,” said Staff Sgt. Rocky Vazquez, a 354th CES fire department noncommissioned officer in charge of logistics. “Being able to train on the simulator allows them to be exposed to the conditions in a safer way.”
Last year the fire department acquired a pump simulator meant to work hand-in-hand with the driving simulator they just received.
“By using the two simulators, we can go through the same steps we would in real life,” said Hughes. “Together, they give us opportunities for realistic training.”
With the addition of this new simulator, firefighters from around the community will be able to benefit.
“Different fire departments from around the community already train on our pump simulator,” said Vazquez. “Now they’ll also be able to train on the driving simulator, making us all better.”
The use of these two tools together helps prepare firefighters without using water or fuel.
“This is as close as you can get to the real thing without actually going out there and using the equipment,” said Hughes.