City makes wise investment in center

Dec. 25, 2012 at 6:25 a.m.

In most occupations, employees learn the basics of their work through on-the-job training. Usually, that's a good strategy when teaching new workers about the dynamics of a new job.

However, in the world of fighting fires, on-the-job training is not enough.

Every day, courageous men and women working for our Crossroads fire departments and police departments realize they might be required to put their lives in a precarious position.

We depend on them to do their jobs well, and they deserve the best training possible to prepare for dangerous work.

That's why we applaud the new fire training facility in Victoria, recently completed and already in use.

Victoria Fire Chief Taner Drake said the new training center will hone these brave people's firefighting skills. Drake, who was appointed chief in 2011, said training is a core value of the department.

"You've got to be able to do training and prepare these guys for the unique challenges they are up against," he said. "We had no real place to duplicate the environment we put them in."

The new $700,000 facility is a wise investment.

The former fire training facility on West Constitution Street was built in the early 1960s and had been condemned because of structural damage.

The new 3,000-square-foot training facility at 1411 S.W. Ben Jordan St. was completed last month and sits on about three acres.

The facility includes a four-story tower with numerous training capabilities. With a fake smoke generator, sprinkler system and a maze, the center will simulate many situations that firefighters encounter, even high-angle rescues and confined space rescues.

Drake said training is essential in part because the average length of experience in the fire department is fewer than four years.

"It gives us that missing element," he said. "Part of our mission statement is that we will provide a highly trained staff. We've been doing that but haven't been able to do it fully."

Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong said the City Council's decision to invest in the new facility "is a confirmation that this council is supportive of our first responders, be it the fire department or the police department. We depend on our first responders, and we want them to have the tools they need."

The center also will benefit the Victoria Police Department, and it may become another revenue source for the city.

Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig said he can envision his department's tactical squad using the facility and how it will be available for out-of-town fire departments to rent to conduct their training sessions.

Firefighters and police officers often stand on the line that separates calm and chaos in our world. They deserve the best training possible because when we need them, it often means our lives depend on them.

So we applaud the new Victoria fire training facility, the City Council for making it happen and the many firefighters and police officers who put their training to good use.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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