HARTS, W.Va. -- Brent Ferrell and his teammate dropped to the floor and crawled inside the smoke-filled trailer Saturday with a long hose and one goal on their minds: extinguish the small fire on the other side.
Ferrell was one of about 17 student volunteer firefighters at Harts Volunteer Fire Department who took part in a training course Saturday to become certified volunteer firefighters. The students entered West Virginia University's Mobile Fire Training Unit -- a live-fire training module that can be set on fire repeatedly -- and battled blazes in an effort to earn their uniform.
His first time training in the 53-foot-long trailer, Ferrell, 18, said he successfully put the fire out with the help of his teammate and focus.
"The darkness affected my vision and I couldn't see so I had to keep my hands on the wall to find my way to the fire," Ferrell said. "I want to help out the community. I don't want to be a hero, but I want people to know they can depend on me."
In order for firefighters to become certified, they have to complete numerous courses, including live-fire demonstrations, said Brian Grieco, a WVU Fire Service Extension Rescue adjunct instructor.
The mobile fire-training unit mimics a structural fire a firefighter would encounter inside a home or any building, he said. The nearly one-million-dollar propane-fueled trailer is environmentally friendly and can be set on fire repeatedly without burning unnecessary wood or hay, said Grieco.
"This is the most realistic training I know of," said Dominick Fraley, a WVU Fire Service Extension instructor and engineer with the Huntington Fire Department. "They have live burn buildings but there's a huge EPA compliance and they're a one time use. This is as close as they can get to a live structure fire."
Firefighters-in-training enter the 16 feet high, 8 feet wide trailer in full gear with a hose and one teammate. Completely filled with smoke, the trailer has moveable stainless steel walls and props to give students a different, realistic fire scene every time, Grieco said.