HELENA — Rocky Mountain Emergency Services Training received a $6 million upgrade, as well as some new aircraft crash fire trucks, which they tested out in simulations Thursday morning.
In March of 2022, The Rocky Mountain Emergency Services Training Center received a grant through the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing them to rehabilitate the fire training facility.
This year, they received an additional grant for the two new fire trucks, and Jeff Wadekamper, the Helena Regional Airport Director, is excited about the new additions.
"We totally rehabilitated the entire fire training facility here. The aviation components all got rebuilt. That project was about five and a half million dollars paid through the FAA Airport Improvement Program. And then this year, we got an additional grant for two fire trucks," Wadekamper.
Along with the new additions Wadekamper showcased, he also mentions that The Rocky Mountain Emergency Services Training Center is pretty unique.
"Ours is unique because it's one of the more environmentally friendly ones. We don't use any firefighting chemicals here at the training center. It's all simulated with water. And so, as you know, as these training centers keep evolving, ours is really one of the few at the forefront of being, you know, high safety," said Wadekamper.
With all the new additions to the facility, they're able to help train other airport staff and other organizations around the United States, and parts of Canada, that might not have access to fire training facilities like the one in Helena.
"This 3,000-gallon truck, this allows us now to train airports, larger airports, hub size airports. So now our facility set up where we can train all the way from the smallest airport Index A, they refer to it as all the way up to the largest airports, which are Index E and everywhere in between. So that gives us the flexibility to train all those different types of airports from all around the country," said Wadekamper.
With limited fire training facilities around the Western United States, Wadekamper reiterates the importance of having a facility like theirs.
"There's about five of these in the entire Western United States that do this, does training for other airports and military organizations, an aviation fire department. So it's very important to have this equipment not only for our local airport, but also for the students that we train here at our facility," said Wadekamper.
Wadekamper says that these upgrades were an important addition to the airport and the facility.
"It's very, very important to have for the safety of the of all the aircraft that are operating in and out of their airport, including the airlines, private, general aviation, military aircraft, everything that utilizes the airport, you know, aviation is one of the safest forms of transportation today, statistically," said Wadekamper, "but nevertheless, you always want to be prepared for any kind of an emergency."