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Harlingen CISD opens first-of-its-kind fire simulator

1 year 2 months 1 week ago Monday, December 12 2022 Dec 12, 2022 December 12, 2022 4:39 PM December 12, 2022 in News - Local

Harlingen is now home to a first-of-its-kind fire simulator.

It is able to give future and current firefighters some realistic training.

"We get live training hands on, I learn more hands on," Harlingen High School senior James Salazar said. 

Salazar is a senior at Harlingen High School, and he already has plans to become a firefighter after he graduates. 

"I always wanted to be one when I was four, it's really fun, I want to save people," Salazar said. 

When Salazar graduates in the spring, he will have his firefighter certification. 

He is looking forward to some hands-on training that is now available for students in the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District Fire Academy. 

"Prior to that, our firefighters and the school district, the students in the fire academy, had to travel to Edinburg, so to be able to do that here," Mayor of Harlingen Norma Sepulveda said.

This three story simulator has been in the works since 2018. 

The idea finally came to fruition when ground was broken for the training center back in May.

The simulator is funded by a more than $332,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. 

It took seven months to build, and it is the only fire simulator of its kind in the Valley.

"The simulator is not just for burns, it has a lot of other props in it," Harlingen Fire Department Chief Rafael Balderas said. "We also have forcible entry, when we get to a home maybe with burglar bars or something we need to break down we can practice doing that here. We also have something where we can breach a wall, if we get trapped in a room we can breach into another room, along with a sprinkler system."

The current senior class will do the first live training in February.

"Skill sets they will develop that will make them that much more effective in our community and protecting our citizens, that is just the greatest part about it," Harlingen CISD Superintendent Alicia Noyola said. 

The site will not be limited to just high school student. 

Channel 5 News learned that city firefighters will also be able to use the facility to keep up with their certifications. 

Noyola says the district plans to look for other grants to continue investing in public safety. 

"When people come together, these are the things that are possible for our students and or communities," Noyola said. 

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