Council to consider funds for new fire department training facility

Sonny Long

Jan. 1, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2012 at 7:02 p.m.

The Victoria Fire Department's current training facility was built in the 1960s. It is no longer used for live fire training.

The Victoria Fire Department's current training facility was built in the 1960s. It is no longer used for live fire training.

Training facilities for Victoria firefighters could be vastly improved if the city council approves a proposal to build a new burn building for the fire department.

On Tuesday, the council will consider the first reading of an ordinance that would transfer $700,000 from the city's general fund to the fire department's building and improvements capital fund.

"This would be a great addition for our department," said Fire Chief Taner Drake. "There's no other way to duplicate that environment in a controlled setting."

The current facility on West Constitution Street that was built in the early 1960s has some structural damage, but is still used for rescue training and other non-fire related events, said Drake.

If approved, the new training facility would be built on a portion of the 80 acres of land that will also house the city's new wastewater treatment plant on the corner of Odem Street and Hand Road.

During the Dec. 6 city council meeting, Drake told the council about the need for the new facility. The fire chief said the average experience in the department is 3.8 years.

"We are a very young department with not a ton of experience out on the street," he said. "We do not have a way to simulate the environment we place them in. That's dangerous."

"We do a lot of on-the-job training. Our senior level officers are having to teach as we go through structure fires," Drake said.

The fire chief added that county fire departments and local law enforcement SWAT teams could also use the facility.

"This is a lot of money, but the life of this building is at least 30 years. It gives us a lot of flexibility and a lot of opportunity for confined space rescue," he said.

Drake said the new training facility would improve an already outstanding fire department.

"I don't want to paint a picture of doom and gloom that the fire department isn't doing an excellent job, because it is, but we can carry it even further by being able to train on a regular basis," he said.

"We want to build our department up to where it can be. This building gives us that ability."

At the Dec. 6 meeting council members agreed that the project should be moved to the city's capital improvement projects plan.

"It's long overdue," said Councilman Tom Halepaska.

Related: Victoria City Council Agendas



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