FORT SMITH (KFSM) – The Fort Smith Fire Department has a new $1.2 million training facility.
"This will help our firefighters become better prepared when they do respond to 911 calls,” City Administrator Ray Gosack said Saturday (May 30).
A new fire training tower -- with real flames, real smoke, and pretend victims -- is now ready for firefighters to practice their job.
"Similar to what we would have if a real building was on fire. If we're doing rescue extinguishment -- whatever the function we're doing -- this will make it much better,” Fire Chief Mike Richards said.
Richards said in the past, there was no way to train in a realistic environment.
“We just had to pretend we had a building or pretend we had something, and that's not realistic. This building will make it so much more efficient to put live fires and live training situations in front of our firefighters,” Richards said.
Gosack said it will also improve safety for the firefighters themselves.
"It will give them experiences they can't get anywhere else other than in real fire situations,” he said.
Firefighters will be using the tower at least once a week, and Richards said the hazard of the flames during practice will make a difference when the threat is real.
“That'll make them much more efficient and used to the job whenever they get out on the real scene,” Richards said.
The facility will also be available to other fire departments in the area for training purposes.
The tower is located at the Department of Sanitation. It was paid for by the 2012 sales tax reallocation, according to a news release.