LaFayette Fire Department is building a training tower, a move that will save taxpayers money, says Public Safety director Tommy Freeman.
Freeman this week asked the City Council for $17,000 to build the tower. Firefighters and volunteer firefighters will build it, instead of the city taking a bid that was submitted for the project.
We went and figured out what kind of training facility we wanted and then we got a bid on that particular training center and that bid was $329,000, Freeman said. But we did all the research prior, too, on how much we were going to be able to buy the material and build the facility for, and we knew we could build it for $17,000.
The tower will be built using free labor from firefighters, who will be doing the bulk of the work.
Also, the departments Ladies Auxiliary organization will spend some of its funds for materials to finish the project, both interior and exterior. So there is going to be some other money spent, maybe $4,000 to $5,000, that is going to be expended by the Ladies Auxiliary to complete the facility, he said. But I think that it is going to be a tremendous asset to the city and to the fire department.
Freeman said the city will get the same results as if it spent $329,000. It is economy-based. Its common sense. Its economic sense.
To have good-quality equipment for us to use and train with, but doing it in an economic way that is affordable and not wasting taxpayers money, that is the main issue here, he said.
The training tower will give firefighters a real-life scenario, but in a controlled environment.
The building will be about 2,900 square feet, with 40-foot containers, and tailored to train firefighters how to combat fires, ventilate buildings and deal with the disorienting atmosphere of a smoke-filled room.
It will take nine steel containers, like the ones used on cargo ships, to build the tower. Wooden pallets will be burnt to create smoke and flames.
Freeman said that purchasing used materials will save a lot of money.
Freeman said the $329,000 bid included an elevator. I dont need an elevator. I dont need power run to it. We dont need the elevator shaft and we dont need all the fluff. We need something basic to train in.
The facility will meet state standards, Freeman said.
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It is going to be more convenient for us to have our own facility on-site. . I dont have to send my firefighters and volunteers out of town to train. I can keep them here and that is going to mean a great deal there, simply because all my paid and volunteer firefighters can train in town, and during the course of their training if we have a fire call, they can respond to the fire call, he said. And that means a great deal to me and the citizens of this community, knowing that my fire people are always going to be in town, even while theyre training.
Freeman said the tower was included in the SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) that voters approved in July, and the project is part of the fire departments five-year capital improvement plan.
Freeman said his fulltime firefighters had 769 hours of training in 2008, while the departments five officers and volunteers had 577 hours, bringing total training hours to 1,346 last year.
Freeman said the fire department is always seeking volunteer firefighters.
There are three sites in LaFayette being considered for the location of the tower the Caron Mills property, behind City Hall, and behind Lowell Green Recreation.
The number one priority in fire service is safety, Freeman said. I am very fortunate that my mayor and council have given me the $17,000 to expend on a facility like this. Without their support and their involvement with the police and fire department, we wouldnt be where we are now and that is what it is all about, he said.
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