Virtual fires train oil patch workers for real danger
Maritime Environmental Training Institute says more than 3,000 Cape Bretoners trained so far
There's no smoke and no fire, but there's lots to be learned from a fire simulator in Cape Breton.
It's a training tool to help people learn how to use fire extinguishers.
The fire is controlled by a computer and projected onto a special six-foot screen.
Students use a fire extinguisher that looks and handles just like a real one.
Harold Daigle is an instructor at the Maritime Environmental Training Institute in Sydney.
"You're going to see a light at the end of the hose and the hose is made to spread the light as if it was spreading the actual foam from the extinguisher."
Miss a spot and the fire can flare up, and like real life you only have about a minute before your extinguisher runs out.
The school uses the system to help train students bound for Alberta's oil patch.
They also train staff at local businesses.
Daigle said the simulator is a better option than lighting real fires.
"Sometimes we have as many as 30 students. Wind and the danger of fire and permits and things like that and smoke and the environment in general, it's not a healthy process."
Joe Pembroke is principle of the Maritime Environmental Training Institute.
Oil companies in Alberta actually recommended they buy the fire simulator to help train workers.
"We were doing training for the oil sands safety association so when we contacted them they told us we needed this particular fire simulator. This fire simulator is is approved by Suncor, Albian Sands, CNRL and Syncrude," said Pembroke.
He said the simulator cost about $75,000.
"It was a big investment at the time for sure, it was somewhat of a risk but over the last number of years we believe we've trained over 3,000 Cape Bretoners on it so its been worthwhile for sure."