KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – In the beginning of March, just before the COVID-19 pandemic started in Germany, the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Fire Department received nearly $165,000 in training equipment.The 15 training aids that make up the garrison’s Hose Line Training Aid System are meant to give firefighters an advantage in dousing a real blaze by practicing on those items which simulate gas and other burning hazardous materials.“This gives us the opportunity to do fire hose line training in realistic scenarios,” said Thomas Rothmann, USAG RP Fire Department assistant chief for training. “We can train on a car fire, a HAZMAT tank, a barbecue grill, a gas meter, a dumpster, and all kinds of fun stuff we can light up and simulate fires, with flames and smoke and sounds, for training.”USAG RP firefighters have formal training through both the host nation fire schools and the Regional Firefighting Training Center in Ansbach, Germany. However, their training never stops.The $165,000 training system allows the firefighters to focus their energy on scenarios they’re most likely to see. The price equates to an investment of about $720 per garrison firefighter, according to Marshall Fiedler, USAG RP Fire Department chief.“The training props were specifically chosen because they represent a particular hazard we may face here in our community,” Fiedler said.The system is mobile, which means it can go to the different fire stations within the garrison footprint. Garrison firefighters from Mannheim to Baumholder can stay at their stations and train with the system, then shut it off and go to a real-world emergency call if needed. The garrison can also add to the system with the purchase of additional appliances.The system uses propane to simulate fires during a selected scenario. The firefighters pull their pumper trucks up, don their protective gear and pull hose as they would at a real fire. In the meantime, the training officer has a remote that controls the level of the flames, smoke, sounds of fire sizzling, gas escaping from a gas meter or even a crying baby to help the crews train.“In the real world, you don’t get to a fire and there’s only fire,” Rothmann said. “You always have a sound of fire. And the sounds themselves can put you in a stressful situation. We want to put our firefighters in the same stressful situation here that they would find when responding to a fire.”Rothmann said the types of fires garrison firefighters respond to most, not counting mutual aid calls with the host nation, are barbecue grill fires and dumpsters.“Quite often,” he said.Fiedler said the new training aids are perfect to help train with the seven new pumper trucks the garrison received last year. There are also plans to take the equipment on the road to train at other garrisons, as well as with host nation and Air Force firefighters.