LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The East Texas Interagency Wildfire and Incident Management Academy is held every year, but recently instructors have been incorporating a simulation table in one of their classes.
The maps in the program are constantly updated by taking data from real-world fires, so trainers can reenact them on the sandbox.
"We're going to use that as a training opportunity here at this academy, to kind of show folks how they can improve their skills especially in the wildland, urban interface environment," said Michael Geesling, the chief coordinator of training for the Texas A&M Forest Service.
The class of future fire supervisors also uses the program to start fires.
"We can show them a fire in their environment or an environment where a fire might happen one day," said the Texas A&M Forest Service Fuels Coordinator, Andy McCrady, the Texas A&M Forest Service fuels coordinator. "And, we can let these folks who are going to be making the decisions on the ground make those decisions in a controlled environment."
Steven Hilton with Beaumont Fire and Rescue said this aspect of the program is helpful coming from Beaumont's generally flat terrain.
"We just had a crew come back from the Fort Davis area," Hilton said. "And, they were seeing a lot different topography, a lot different field types, a lot different fire behavior. So, things like this actually show us how it can be changed, and how those affect. And, give us some idea what to expect."
However, this technology isn't jufirefightersighters. The Texas A&M Forest Service uses it as a way to teach fire safety to communities.
Carol Barrett with the Elm Pass Volunteer Fire Department said she's thinking about bringing this technology to her community.
"It'll be better than sitting there on a presentation that they cannot put their hands in the sand, find their home, place their home in the sand table," Barrett said. "And, say, you know what, this is actually real."
The State of Texas currently has four of these systems operating.