New Fire Training Unit Runs on Propane

Minnesota firefighters now have a state-of-the-art, propane-fueled mobile fire trailer to help them train for real-life fires. (image:

A giant live-burn mobile trailer fueled by propane gas is helping emergency fire personnel in Minnesota prepare for the real thing, reports.

The Cloquet Area Fire District in Carlton County recently purchased the two-story, 53-foot unit with the help of a $350,000 federal grant.

The mobile training tool can burn up to three fires at a time. It’s completely fueled by propane that’s so clean-burning firefighters can set it up anywhere and it’s computer controlled for added safety.

“It’s the most advanced unit of its type in northern Minnesota,” said department Chief Kevin Schroeder. “It allows us to train at will and not have to wait until somebody donates a house to us, which sometimes can be every six months and sometimes three or four years.”

Built by the Drager Corporation in Ontario, the unit is one of only eight manufactured. The entire front half of the mobile unit houses gas storage and computer systems. The rear is the actual burn chamber where firefighters train.

A rollover simulator lets fire roll across the ceiling much like it would in a real house. The unit also features props to train for kitchen fires, rescues and a forcible entry through locked doors.

The second story can be lowered for highway transportation. Firefighters can train in a two-story environment, descending downstairs as if entering a blazing basement.

Smoke is generated within the unit by injecting a vegetable oil-type liquid in an atomized form through a hot nozzle.

The unit is built with special steel granite fibreglass insulation to withstand heat. It has a self-contained power system in the generator, which runs off two 420-gallon propane tanks. Otherwise, all that’s needed to operate it for training purposes is water.

The department renting the training unit out to other fire departments in the district, helping to recoup costs and better preparing other emergency personnel for real-life fires and making their jobs safer.

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