Everyone should have a chance to use a fire extinguisher on a real fire. The trouble with this idea is that the annual discharge of fire extinguishers is expensive, training fires can be problematic, and the discharge from the extinguishers can leave a big mess.

I had the chance recently to undergo annual training with a new controlled fire training system made by BullEx. I’ll admit to being skeptical at first. It seemed awfully contrived and … safe. But watching the tenderfoot office staff line up with their backup buddies to use pressurized water to put down a controlled and “adjustable” fire, I finally came around and had to agree that the system has considerable merit. For us, the system pays for itself in 1 year of training in terms of retiring dry chemical recharge costs.

Most would agree that a fire extinguisher is fairly simple to use. What seems to be the hard part for many is overcoming the uncertainty about whether they should use the extinguisher and under what circumstances. While the simulator does not produce smoke, obnoxious fumes, and there is no dust cloud from a dry chemical extinguisher discharge, the system does a good job of building confidence in people who may be a bit timid.