Local fire district training just keeps getting betterIn January, CAFD Chief Kevin Schroeder found out the fire district is getting a second mobile training trailer that is four-and-a-half stories tall.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Late last summer, the Cloquet Area Fire District got “a giant boost to training,” in the words of Captain Jesse Buhs, in the form of a 53-foot mobile live burn trailer that stands two stories tall and can burn up to three fires at a time. That unit – the most advanced trailer of its type in the state – came to CAFD courtesy of a federal FEMA “Assistance to Firefighters” training grant of $350,000.
Now the district is getting an equally massive boost to training, only this one is even taller.
In January, CAFD Chief Kevin Schroeder found out a second federal grant was approved for the fire district: this one for a second mobile training trailer that is four-and-a-half stories tall. The new tower trailer won’t have live fire, but it does feature a smoke machine as well as a standpipe and sprinkler system to create realistic training situations for fire fighters and law enforcement officers.
“It’s used for search and rescue training, ladder work rappelling, aerial operations, high angle rescue and more,” Schroeder explained. “There are currently six in the entire country, and we’re getting number eight [a seventh tower is currently under construction].”
The CAFD Board must formally accept the federal grant at its February or March meeting and approve the required local funds. The local match is $12,250 – which Schroeder said was included in the CAFD budget for this year – and the federal grant will total $232,750.
Schroeder wrote both grants, but he gives a lot of credit for his success to the collaborative nature and expanded reach of the fire district, which provides fire and emergency management services to the cities of Cloquet and Scanlon, Perch Lake Township and the Fond du Lac Reservation at a savings of $250,000, with 58 employees and improved service across the
The training tower will be custom built to order by Riverside Metal Craft, Inc., in Hawkinsville, Ga. Schroeder said he expects the CAFD training tower could be delivered by mid-summer. The semi-truck that came with the first training trailer can also carry the training tower, he said.
As part of the grant conditions, both training trailers must be available for other fire departments and emergency services to utilize. CAFD can recoup its costs for training and transport, but the district isn’t supposed to make money off its new training tools.
“Our other trailer just came back from three days at the Fire Safety Educators Professional Development Conference in St. Cloud,” Schroeder said.
Craig Boedigheimer was one of three CAFD trainers who taught an instructing class about the burn trailer at the conference and took classes to improve his own skills as a trainer.
“We took part in a training round-table discussion and an on-scene radio operations instructors course,” Boedigheimer said. “These are all things we bring back and use to train our firefighters.”
Schroeder said the burn trailer is getting lots of attention.
“We’ve had four local departments contact us for training this spring and we’ve had inquiries from as far away as south of St. Paul,” he said.
The new tower trailer will be the first vertical trailer in the state; the next closest training tower of this sort is located in Branson, Mo.