Memorial University's Fisheries and Marine Institute will soon be able to train firefighters anywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador, thanks to a new mobile live fire training unit.

'So you can actually get the feel of swinging an axe, chopping a hole, and doing what a guy does on the roof.'  - Craig Harnum

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency provided funding of more than $463,000 for the Safety and Emergency Response Training Centre's new unit — a 16-metre trailer, that's based in Stephenville.

"This type of unit is going to be able to reach out to the remote areas of the island — people who probably haven't got the opportunity to do live fire training for maybe a year or two," said Craig Harnum, the training centre's assistant director.

"I mean, some people have never got the opportunity because the fire schools and the training just don't match their schedule. You'll be able to park it right in a municipality. It's all environmentally friendly, no smoke. It's pretty much a full package." 

Unit a first for the province

The unit comes as positive news for the nearly 6,000 volunteer firefighters at 272 different fire halls around the province.

The mobile burn building is fuelled by propane, and is controlled manually.

With the push of a button on a screen, Harnum said he can start three different fires inside the mobile unit.

"She has a kitchen fire, fully-blown stove, fridge, kitchen fire; and she has a flash-over, rollover simulator; plus, a living room couch fire," he said.

The training building has walls that can move, so it can simulate 55 different firefighting situations, including breaking through doors, going into confined spaces, and even going through a roof.

"They can actually cut holes in the plywood, so they can carry out their ventilation simulation techniques right on top of the trailer," said Harnum. 

"We can actually get four holes cut, change the sheet of plywood, and cut four more. So you can actually get the feel of swinging an axe, chopping a hole, and doing what a guy does on the roof."