ROCK SPRINGS – Depending on who you ask, you will get a lot of different answers on the state of the economy. Due to the uncertainty of the economy, government agencies are also being very conservative moving forward with budgets. What financial uncertainty does bring out is unique ideas and outside the box thinking.
Recently at the Rock Springs/Sweetwater County Airport, the board had a chance to listen to a very unique idea from one of its own.
Airport fireman and employee Bryce Taylor is in charge of fire training at the airport. At the recently board meeting, Taylor brought an idea to the board which could provide hours of training and a minimal cost.
On the airport property sits a 1987 school bus. Taylor said it has sat idle at the airport for many years. As he began looking at the bus day in and day out, Taylor noticed a lot of similarities between the bus and the Brasilia aircraft which, for now, provide flights at the airport.
Taylor explained to the board as he continued to look at it closer he began thinking about how this old bus could be used as a training tool. As he showed the board pictures of the bus, he also showed them the similarities it has to the fuselage of the Brazilia.
“I think this could provide many years of training for a long time to come,” Taylor said.
Besides traveling for training, the airport team has been allowed to use the Rock Springs Fire Department burn building for additional training. Taylor said not only will this give the team a more realistic approach of an aircraft, it also gives them the opportunity to train at the airport for a more realistic simulation of what they might actually see if a real accident did occur.
Board member Dave Hanks said he really appreciated the outside the box thinking especially when finances are so tight. He did question Taylor how this might change if they move to jet service. Taylor said the bus is still very similar to any airplane fuselage and they need to know how to cut their way in if necessary.
Finances again were a topic as the airport budget is very tight. The airport does have $3,800 left in the budget for training but staff said most of this has already been spent for mandatory training sessions in Wyoming.
There was also some discussion on what type of permits they might need to acquire from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Environmental Quality.
Board attorney George Lemich said there is a level of expertise on the board in Sweetwater County Fire District No. 1 Chief Jim Wamsley. He also said Fire District No. 1 is building the new station north of Rock Springs which includes a training ground. He said maybe they could work with the district to see if they could provide materials to simulate airport training.
Wamsley had a prior engagement and was not at the meeting but Taylor said he talked to Wamsley about the idea and that he was very much in favor of transforming the bus. Taylor also added that while having training materials at the new fire station would be nice, anytime they have to go off site for training, overtime costs go up for the airport.
Taylor said he believed and hoped he could transform the bus for less than $1,000. Engineer Chuck Kellerman explained to the board training was a permitted use for the passenger fee funds they collect and they might start looking to see if those funds could be used for this. Taylor also proposed the idea of selling the engine and transmission of the bus to help offset the cost to transform it.
Board member Larry Leavitt also spoke in favor of the idea noting they can get a lot of use out of it for a minimal cost. With the training requirements from the Wyoming Aeronautics Division, Taylor added to that explaining they can show the state they are training on site and logging training hours.
Rock Springs Council Liaison Billy Shalata also has a little experience in the world of firefighting. Shalata spoke in favor of it especially the aspect of giving the crew on-site training.
Board Chairman Dr. Sigsbee Duck said he thought it was a great idea and told Taylor to look at the permits they might need and the cost of it and they would go from there.