Concord Fire Gets New Drone, Safety Trailer

CONCORD- The City of Concord is deploying new technology to enhance public safety in the community with a new fire prevention and life safety trailer and an unmanned aircraft system.

Manufactured by BullEx, the custom-built 34-foot safety trailer has the only technology of its kind currently in operation in North Carolina.

In addition to the traditional “smoke house” function experienced by many young children learning how to escape from a bedroom, the fire prevention and safety trailer is equipped with training props and realistic sensory experiences to help citizens of all ages learn how to respond to emergencies.

Norman Franklin, assistant fire marshal with the Concord Fire Department, said the house the department has been using to teach kindergarten and first-grade students in the city was about 20 years old. So it was time for an upgrade.

“We were sort of limited with what we could do with it,” Franklin said. “With this one, we are able to meet the needs of not only kids but also adults.”

Inside of the trailer, there are separate training environments for the bedroom, kitchen and an industrial setting. Additionally, an extreme weather scenario package can provide training for a variety of emergencies beyond fires.

“We can teach a full class in there on kitchen safety,” Franklin said. “We’ve got enough props in there that we can simulate a couple of different things like a trash can fire, stove fire, cabinet fire, toaster and microwave fire.”

Franklin said these lessons are important for adults, and sometimes children who are allowed to cook.

“Then we can give you the correct way of how to put those types of fires out. A lot of people make mistakes, especially when you are talking a pan on the stove,” Franklin said. “Our reaction is to get it to water, which is not the correct thing to do. Always understand that when you have a grease fire, stop feeding it by turning the burner off.”

The bedroom area has functions where children can feel a hot door to see if there is fire behind it, and allows them to see what happens to smoke when they open the window.

It also has an escape ladder.

“We can show kids how to come out of a ladder because most of them are a little afraid when it comes down to it. They aren’t quite sure how to come out,” Franklin said. “We even have a prop where it shoots smoke from up under the door.”

The industrial room, which fire personnel are really excited about, is a tool Franklin said the department could reach a lot of people with.

“We are really excited about that. This is something that nobody else in North Carolina has,” Fire Marshal Adam Ryerson, said. “We can now take this trailer and introduce it to people ages kindergarten through 99.”

The city is also preparing to begin using an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for emergency response and other situations.

Commonly referred to as a drone, the city has been working for the past year to develop policies and procedures around the UAS, comply with FAA and NCDOT regulations, and identify and train potential operators.

The primary use of UAS is situational awareness in order to keep coworkers and citizens safe during dangerous operations.

At least 375 public safety agencies across the United States have added UAS to their capabilities, and 80 percent use a DJI-manufactured model, which is what Concord acquired. Potential uses include search and rescue operations, structure fire monitoring and investigations, barricaded persons/hostage situations, accident investigations and inspection of city infrastructure such as water tanks, drainage areas, roads, power lines and buildings.

The drone will provide aerial observations without the cost and risk associated with a helicopter. [Click for More]