MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) - Answering a serious local need, the Mobile County Commission is set to approve a $307,000 steel fire training tower that will be built in Semmes to train firefighters from volunteer and municipal departments throughout the area.
Live burns allow firefighters to train and observe the full progression of a fire.
The Commission will vote on the funding at its meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, October 14 in the auditorium of Government Plaza.
The funding comes from Commissioner Connie Hudson’s District 2 Education funds and will cover the costs of purchase, design, and site construction of the three-and-a-half story steel tower. It will be located on nine acres off Illinois Street owned by the City of Semmes.
Semmes will construct a 2,800 square foot fire training facility and emergency response center adjacent to the tower. It will include classrooms, emergency quarters for firefighters and first responders and an on-site generator.
“We don’t have adequate existing facilities to train the large numbers of firefighters working throughout the county in difficult and dangerous circumstances,” said Commissioner Connie Hudson. “These tools are critical.”
Besides preparing firefighters for life-saving practices, the capability to train at the tower will be incorporated into assessments by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), which influences homeowner insurance rates. ISO grades on a 1to10 scale with 1 as the best classification.
Based on a nationwide study performed by ISO, the cost of fire losses for homeowners’ policies in communities graded Class 9 is 65 percent higher than communities with the grade of Class 5.
According to Creola Fire Chief Jeff Reeves, president of the Mobile County Association of volunteer Fire Chiefs, “Training is currently very hard to come by and travel to Tuscaloosa to the Fire College is really the only other option. This facility will provide an excellent resource to area volunteer firefighters and concurrently the citizens who receive their assistance.”
County Commission President Merceria Ludgood said that development of firefighting resources is a top priority as county urbanization continues at a fast pace, with expansion both to the north and the west.
“Increasing the capacity of our volunteers and cities to fight fires is essential,” said Ludgood.
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