Glendale firefighters learn from 'reality TV'

Capt. Matthew Luchetta sat in the hot seat and called out commands Thursday to fellow firefighters as he took stock of a smoky three-story apartment building on Cypress Street. But it could have just as easily been a plane crash, hazardous materials incident or brush fire.

That’s because the scene was playing out on a video projection. The rest of the team was observing the same scene on a television monitor in a separate room next door, responding to the calls over radio to simulate in-the-field teamwork.

The joint training exercise was held at the Los Angeles Fire Department’s training center.

“We are all learning from each other and working as a team to be successful,” said Glendale Fire Battalion Chief Tom Propst.

The captains on Thursday viewed different angles and fire images — which can be manipulated for more drama — on the “Green Cell Simulator” screen.

A Verdugo Fire Communications dispatcher also attended the training scenario to relay the initial emergency call and firefighting resources.

“Run them as you would your incident,” Glendale Battalion Chief Anthony Arellanes told the captains about the scenarios. “There is no tripwire.”

Once the scenario was completed, the group talked about their response, observations and any improvements that need to be made.

“It just adds more realism,” Arellanes said, adding that the simulator also strengthens confidence and communication.

The simulator has proven to be a successful trainer, said Los Angeles Fire Capt. Scott Quinn, noting that one firefighter was confronted with the same real life situation that he had practiced the day before.

Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA

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