FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – A state-of-the-art Regional Fire Training Facility is on its way to Fresno.
The new center won’t just be used by Fresno but by departments across the state.
Local leaders have been appealing to the state for a new facility for two decades, saying the old facility is outdated. The Fresno Fire Department has been using the old training tower for 85 years and because of a new development in the lot next to it, the department isn’t able to engulf the building in flames for training.
“We never stopped in the pursuit of seeing this vision come to fruition,” said Fire Chief Kerri Donis. “Never.”
The calls to the fire department have increased by over 60% in the last two years, with the department’s staffing well below the state and national average.
The pleas of the department finally heard on Tuesday as State Senator Melissa Hurtado handed over a check for a brand-new facility.
“I want to present this big check of $25 million to the City of Fresno,” said Hurtado.
The multi-million-dollar project will be built right next to the city’s Police Training Center, will have the only swift water training west of Texas, and has the capacity to train ten times the amount of firefighters as the old facility.
“The state-of-the-art facility will have specialty training props such as hazardous materials, urban search and rescue, high and low rescue, as well as railway emergency training props and ample training classrooms,” said Donis.
The City of Fresno will also put forward $400,000 from its own budget to build the design of the center, which will be used by departments across the region.
“Whenever you have firefighters from different agencies train together,” said Mayor Jerry Dyer. “When they get out into that situation, when they are going to have to work together, they understand each other’s movements. They are trained similarly and therefore: they are going to keep each other and other people safe.”
Dyer said if all goes according to plan, the new center could be finished in about two years.