Upgraded training facility for Dallas Fort Worth ARFF firefighters

Published:  19 September, 2014

The DFW Airport Fire Training Research Center (FTRC) has undergone a complete 21st century transformation in the way Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) train, writes Michael Foster, Assistant Fire Chief/Training.

The facility has a new high tech classroom that is second to none, and the learning environment is exceptional for the student. This classroom includes 32 work stations complete with computers for inactive learning. The instructor has at their fingertips a wide variety of visual aids for aircraft familiarization, airport familiarization as well as a tactics and strategy program that will challenge the student in his/her own environment.

A training class at the FTRC will give firefighters in the fire service the ability to learn in an environment that is compatible with the computer generation.  The student will be able to interact with the instructor on such things as walking through the Airbus A-380. The interactive aircraft familiarization gives the student the ability to get a hands-on, three dimensional look at the flight deck of an aircraft they may have never been in. This gives the ARFF student an insight that is much more expansive in their learning than previously experienced.

The airport familiarization will take the student around the airport in a safe environment where her/she can learn runways and taxiways without fear of watching out for taxiing aircraft. These visual aids have assisted the instructor with providing outstanding hands-on, interactive training never before seen in the ARFF community. The student can learn signage, lighting, and markings at their own pace. Whether a student learns visually, or the written word, the programs developed for the FTRC provide this capability at all levels.

The high tech classroom also has a very interactive video wall. The instructor can use the wall and have students follow along, or used in conjunction with the computer at the student’s desk for assignments. A program built into the system is the quiz section. This gives the instructor the ability to put a “pop quiz” question up on the student’s computer screen. After the student answers the question the instructor has immediate feedback on scores. The ability for the instructor to have this feedback is invaluable in evaluating where the class is in the teaching process. The instructor can stop and go back over material covered if the class percentage is low. In the past, instructors would have to wait until the end of the class to give the final test. It was then an instructor would find out the effectiveness of his/her teaching methods. 

The purpose of this technology is to put the student into the environment in which they normally operate. This type of training scenario will be more effective for them. To do this, the FTRC instructor has the ability with the Tactics and Strategy program to place the student’s airport on the interactive wall. When the instructor begins placing aircraft and vehicles into a tactical scenario, the student has an immediate ability to use the information they have received in class and apply it to a tactical situation that they may actually encounter at their airport.

This training system is unique in that it can be broadcast worldwide. Cameras have been placed in the classrooms to provide interconnectivity with the internet. Recently, this technology was showcased in Europe, the Middle East, and at fire trade shows across the United States where members of the DFW Airport FTRC staff presented the capabilities to ARFF Working Groups. This truly gives the FTRC the ability to be a world leader in ARFF instruction. The staff at the FTRC has an average of 18 years of experience. This, coupled with the unique features of the FTRC’s high tech classroom, make for an effective teaching model for other organization’s to emulate. 

  • Operation Florian

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