Fort Smith Fire Chief Mike Richards request for the city to sign off on a new four-story training tower for firefighters was approved at Tuesday’s (June 17) Board of Directors meeting.
“We can do live fire training that is the primary purpose of the building,” Richards said. ” It’s unlike anything else in this area we can set a fire in certain parts of the building and simulate real heat real smoke.”
Plans for the new facility have been in the works for quite some time, according to Richards.
The new facility will be built out near the city landfill. It will be a four-story building, equipped with a two-story burn room and have a pavilion including outdoor classrooms, Richards said.
The new facility would come at a price tag of more than $1 million, which would come from Act 338, according to Richards. What that means is most of the construction costs would be paid for by the state’s fund for fire departments. Additional funding would come from a sales tax that voters approved back in 2012, Richards said.
The chief said the new facility is greatly needed because crews currently don’t have anywhere to practice drills or train in Fort Smith. Instead, Richards said crews have to find a vacant street and pretend one of the homes is on fire.
“With the new training tower, we will be able to do live fire training both in fire simulated above them upper floor or below them in the lower floor,” Richards said. “We can`t do those types of training whatsoever now.”
Richards said the new training tower will be built within the next year.