A new era for fire training with LION

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Arnaud Lefebvre, Sales Director at LION, discusses how their NFTT solution transforms the economics and safety  of firefighter training

In the ever-evolving landscape of fire safety training, LION’s latest endeavour—a comprehensive cost calculation tool— is tailored to assist training centres in evaluating the total cost of ownership of their facilities.

LION’s selling concept is designed to enhance the decision-making process for training centres, enabling them to determine the most efficient mix of wood, gas, and digital simulations.

Arnaud Lefebvre, the Sales and Marketing Director for LION, played a key role in the development of this innovative tool.

Through customer interaction, LION sought to improve training methods and explore new technologies for fire responder readiness.

This led to the conceptualisation of the Total Cost of Ownership tool.

IFSJ Editor Iain Hoey sat down with Lefebvre to delve into the intricacies of this new calculation tool, LION’s New Fire Technology Training (NFTT), and discuss the future of firefighter training.

How does the Total Cost of Ownership tool support LION’s mission and enhance fire safety training?

Training is key for preparedness and safety in incidents.

Regular, realistic practice is essential.

Most firefighters acknowledge the benefits of combining wood, gas, and digital technologies for optimal training, yet this is perceived as costly.

This tool demonstrates that integrating these technologies, despite the initial investment, actually reduces the Total Cost of Ownership compared to solely wood-based training, which is typically considered the most economical option.

How does the cost calculation tool enhance LION’s NFTT sales strategy?

LION’s NFTT concept initially focused on the benefits for trainees and trainers.

However, it’s increasingly recognised that a mix of technologies – wood-based, gas-based, and digital – is crucial for superior and safer training experiences.

Each technology offers distinct advantages: wood-based training is invaluable for understanding smoke behaviour and fire dynamics, gas-based setups are excellent for simulating intense, hot tactical scenarios, and digital technology is unparalleled in providing high-frequency, repetitive training exercises.

Digital methods also allow for training in highly realistic settings, including actual building environments, which is critical for practical skills development.

One common misconception is the presumed high cost of integrating such diverse training methodologies.

This new tool challenges that perception by allowing users to experiment with different training configurations.

It provides a comprehensive assessment of the total cost of ownership, encompassing initial purchase costs, ongoing operational expenses, maintenance and service fees, and even end-of-life disposal costs.

Moreover, it offers a unique feature: the ability to evaluate the environmental impacts of these varied training technologies.

This holistic approach underscores the cost-effectiveness of such an integrated training system but also highlights its sustainability, aligning with modern environmental consciousness and the need for eco-friendly training solutions.

In this way, the tool not only complements LION’s NFTT selling concept but significantly extends its scope, offering a more nuanced, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible approach to firefighter training.

How does the tool calculate the total cost of ownership for training centres?

The tool, only available to LION and its carefully selected partners, is pre-set with various parameters, allows the LION sales team to make adjustments to mirror the requirements of each first responder brigade.

First, we set the desired training mix, like a combination of wood containers and a digital system.

Then, input the frequency of training – the number of sessions per day, and days per year.

Next, specify the number of simulators used in regular sessions.

Based on this data, the tool calculates average consumption of wood, gas, water, and electricity, with an option for users to adjust utility costs.

It then presents the total cost of ownership, detailing investment costs, annual utility expenses, estimated service costs, PPE cleaning costs, waste disposal, salaries for trainers and technicians, and end-of-life costs.

Additionally, the tool calculates environmental impact, estimating emissions of particles, CO2, Carbon Monoxide, NOx, Soot, and other pollutants like Polycyclic Hydrocarbons (PAH).

The customer receives a detailed report from LION, allowing them to review the calculations and make budget decisions accordingly.

How does this assist training centres in choosing the best combination of wood, gas, and digital simulations for their needs?

This tool facilitates the creation of diverse training scenarios.

For instance, if a centre wants to explore the impact of incorporating a smoke treatment system into their wood containers, the tool can simulate this addition.

It provides detailed information about the extra costs involved, including investment, operation, and service expenses, and also assesses the environmental benefits, such as reduced particle emissions.

The tool allows training centres to experiment with various scenarios, aiding in decisions about whether to integrate new simulators with different technologies, both from economic and environmental perspectives.

What insights did you gain from developing the cost-evaluation tool?

Our research using this tool has led to a surprising conclusion: a mixed-method approach to training is more economical in the long run.

Incorporating a combination of training technologies, rather than relying solely on traditional methods like wood burning, proves to be more cost-effective.

This finding counters a common assumption.

Many believe that adopting new technologies is financially daunting due to their initial costs.

However, our tool’s analysis reveals that the less obvious expenses associated with traditional methods, such as wood burning, accumulate to a greater extent over time than the costs of investing in a diverse range of technologies.

How does this tool cater to the diverse safety, environmental, and realism needs of various training centres?

The tool offers a selection of different training technologies for consideration:

Wood-Based Burns (Carbonaceous)

These provide high realism but are the least environmentally friendly and carry the highest risk in training scenarios.

Gas Simulators

They offer a consistently hot environment and high repeatability with greater safety, though they have a slightly lower realism factor compared to wood.

Digital Simulators

Highly flexible and portable, these simulators offer the safest and most environmentally friendly option.

They can be used in real buildings, but they do not generate heat.

Are there any plans to integrate this tool with additional LION products or services for a broader training solution?

The cost evaluation tool is a key component of LION’s comprehensive NFTT concept.

The aim here is to illustrate how various training technologies contribute to more efficient training.

NFTT is a holistic concept, addressing all critical aspects for fire responders, from training to safety, environmental impact, and economic considerations.

Initially, we focused primarily on fire responders, but the NFTT concept is equally applicable to other sectors requiring specialised training, such as hospitals, petrochemical and chemical industries, naval operations, etc.

For these sectors, a thorough understanding of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is essential.

Can you talk more about the NFTT and how it compares to traditional training methods?

NFTT introduces a variety of training technologies, contrasting traditional methods like wood burning and gas use with evolving digital and virtual reality options.

The misconception that these newer technologies will entirely replace traditional methods isn’t reflected in current trends.

Each technology, whether traditional or modern, offers unique advantages and limitations.

Our concept promotes diverse training methods, with each contributing distinct benefits to enhance training quality.

Some traditional wood-based practices can now be effectively supplanted by digital or gas technologies.

This transition is beneficial not only for the training process but also financially.

While wood might appear cost-effective, it incurs additional expenses in maintenance, cleaning, safety measures, and time for setup and restarts.

Burning solid materials like wood in training poses inherent risks due to heat, potential explosions, burns from real smoke, and particularly the airborne particles.

These factors present health hazards, especially to trainers who face prolonged exposure.

What are the health advantages of the New Fire Technology Training (NFTT)?

Traditional firefighter training methods, involving intense scenarios in training containers, pose significant health risks such as heat exposure leading to conditions like heat stroke.

The stress of mastering multiple skills, like using breathing apparatus and understanding fire behaviour, can be overwhelming for new firefighters.

This can lead to dangerous behaviours and necessitates close supervision.

Incorporating training technologies can mitigate these challenges by gradually introducing complex scenarios, allowing trainees to build confidence and competence in a controlled environment.

Moreover, traditional training methods, such as wood burning, are physically demanding for trainers due to intense heat and water loss, and also contribute to pollution from burning materials, posing long-term health risks.

This pollution releases harmful particles, increasing the risk of inhalation-related health issues.

Training in a cleaner environment with alternative technologies can offer similar experiences with less physical strain and reduce long-term health risks, benefiting both trainees and trainers by minimising exposure to harmful particles.

What effects do you anticipate this tool will have on the fire safety training industry?

Its primary contribution will be in demonstrating that the integration of various training technologies is not just beneficial for the quality of training but is also a more economical and environmentally friendly approach.

I’m optimistic that, as a result, there will be a heightened level of preparedness among fire responders.

This tool has the potential to make a profound and lasting impact on the entire industry, enhancing both the efficiency and effectiveness of fire safety training.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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