VAN BUREN (KFSM) - An old building in downtown Van Buren has been transformed to help firefighters with their training so they're ready for anything that comes their way.
The Van Buren fire department has always had to rely on vacant buildings for practice. However, that is not the case anymore as training has kicked off in a new facility.
The three-story building, formally known as the Darrel Thomas building, was built in 1892 and is located on Main Street. The facility has been an outfielder shop and a church in the past, but now it's home to firefighters so they can do a variety of training.
The building will also allow them to do some search and recovery exercises as well as teaching them how to save lives in thick, heavy smoke. Crews also plan to take out an old elevator so they can build a shaft to practice repelling.
"There's two things that boosts firefighter morale and that is running calls and training," said Battalion Chief Les Stephenson. "It [training] gives them confidence and is good to know when an emergency arises," according to Stephenson.
The new facility will give fire crews the opportunity to build their skills and this will make the community feel safer. "We have a really good and well-trained fire department and it's going to pick up because of this facility," said Van Buren Fire Chief Tim Arnold. "We're just going to be a little more trained and it will be safer for the citizens."
The City of Van Buren bought the piece of property for around $150,000 and later turned it over to the fire department.