PITTSBURG — Firefighters experienced what a live fire feels and looks like during a special training session Saturday.

The simulation was hosted by the Pittsburg Fire Department in conjunction with the University of Kansas. Firefighters from the Pittsburg, Frontenac and Cherryvale fire departments were present for the training.

“The younger ones may not have seen a house fire yet,” Pittsburg Fire Chief Mike Simons said.

“They get to see and feel what it is like.”

The university brings a mobile interior firefighting simulator to fire departments across Kansas at no cost to the department.

KU Fire Rescue Training Institute Fire Instructor Eric Ganson and two other instructors, Shon Price and Erik Wood came to Pittsburg to help with the training.

“The training is to help them feel comfortable and expose them to fire fighting,” Ganson said. 

Pittsburg Firefighter Andrew Kirksey said the simulator is as close as it gets to a real fire.

“It is hot in the room and the vision is low,” he said. “It is great for practicing the fundamentals.”

The mobile trailer simulates hot conditions and poor visibility firefighters are presented with during real fires, including props — a bed, stove and coffee table.

“The visibility is very low,” Simons said as he held his hand a few inches from his face. “They can’t see far from their face.”

During the training, the firefighters practiced using thermal imaging cameras, which are used to help make out where fire and people are located through the smoke.

“The camera allows you to see in smoky conditions and find the seed of the fire,” Simons said.

The technology has been around for over 25 years, but the resolution and the ability to record has improved over the years.

Simons said the department plans to have another simulation in the fall and plans to continue using the simulator for years to come.

“One thing you may not know about firefighting is that you are always going to school,” KU Fire Instructor Shon Price said.

 — Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.