Parking a fire truck near a backhoe, the crew hops out to sneak a peek last week at what will soon be their new training facility.
One firefighter jokes about shedding a single tear as they pass the old burnt-out, two-story facility in which they devoted countless training hours.
CherryPoint Fire and Emergency Services, Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting and Provost Marshal's Office personnel all wait in anticipation for the completion of the new-and-improved training tower off of Access Road aboard the air station.
The idea for the training tower started in late 2009 because the previous two-story facility was not completely meeting the training needs of the fire crews, said Johnson. Before any plans were drawn, firefighters from the air station sat down together to create a list of features they wanted in the new facility.
Johnson said the tower is primarily in possession of the CherryPoint Fire Department but will be used by the Marines of ARFF and PMO and for combined training operations among all the entities.
“The Marines with Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting are extremely excited about the CherryPoint Fire Department’s new live-burn building,” said chief warrant officer three Tina Burt, the airfield emergencies officer with ARFF. “A few Marines have not conducted live-burn structural training since graduating from the Louis F. Garland Fire Academy at Good Fellow Air Force Base, Texas.”
She said completion of the live-burn building will help sustain the Marines’ proficiency and will support new training and readiness requirements in structural response and operations required of the ARFF Marines.
The new four-story tower overshadows its counterpart by two additional stories and includes added obstacles and up-to-date equipment to keep the emergency crews on their toes.
"The new building also includes an in-set balcony on the second floor to conduct simulated rescues into barracks like the ones on base," added Johnson.
Other additions to the new facility include rappelling stations, forcible entry stations, simulated residential, commercial and industrial scenarios, wall-to-wall anchor points for intervention teams and a reconfigurable self-contained breathing apparatus maze.
“The new facility will also assist in a better working relationship between ARFF and the CPFD, because it will help us recognize and be comfortable with each other's capabilities,” said Burt. “ARFF has extended the appreciation by inviting CPFD to ARFF training evolutions.”
The total cost of the new facility is approximately $320,000. The tower is currently going through its final construction stages of laying concrete and pavement for the parking lot. The facility is scheduled to be completed within the first week of September.