For a few years the Newton Fire/EMS department used borrowed equipment to help nursing homes and businesses practice using fire extinguishers — and it was a system that left those places needing to recharge several of their extinguishers when the training was over.

“We would show up with a pan of combustable material, go into their parking lot and light it on fire,” said Phillip Beebee of Newton Fire/EMS. “They would bring out all of their fire extinguishers … and they would take turns. We would light the fire, they would put it out, and we would light the fire again. By the end of it, they would have used up five or six of their extinguishers and they would have to pay to have the refilled. It was very messy  and it was expensive.”

That however, is about to change. Newton Fire/EMS has received a grant from FM Global to purchase a live-fire extinguisher training system for fire prevention education.

The $8,345 grant will fund a BullEx Intelligent Training System, which uses a controlled propane fire and a water/air fire extinguisher to train people how to putting out fires. It uses sensor technology to detect how well a trainee uses the extinguisher.

“We are very excited about it,” Beebee said.

Newton Fire/EMS will be able to use the system for trainings at local businesses and industries, health care facilities, senior living facilities and other sites in the community as part of its fire prevention program.

“It gives them a chance to use the PASS acronym — pull, aim, squeeze, squeeze,” Beebee said. “They pull the pin, squeeze the handle and they can sweep it back and forth to put the fire out. They can practice all of this with a real fire … and get all of this experience without making a huge mess or expense.” 

FM Global representatives have planned a recognition presentation and a demo of the equipment at 11 a.m. Monday, April 30 at Newton Fire/EMS Station 2, 200 E. Third St.

Through its Fire Prevention Grant Program, FM Global awards grants to fire departments – as well as national, state, regional, local and community organizations worldwide – that demonstrate a need for funding, where dollars can have the most demonstrable impact on preventing fire, or mitigating the damage it can quickly cause. FM Global is a mutual insurance company.