Preparing for the Worst

9/17/2021

The Durango Fire Protection District's new, four-story fire-training tower will provide the region's firefighters with in-depth, realistic experiences fighting fires and rescuing victims. Sponsored by FASTSIGNS and Serious Texas Barbecue

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The Durango Fire Protection District's new state-of-the-art training tower will provide emergency responders throughout the Four Corners with more realistic experiences fighting fires or conducting rescue operations. And someday that experience could save a life. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Serious Texas Bar-B-Q and Fast Signs of Durango. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. Durango Fire unveiled its $2.5 million training tower in Bodo Park during dedication ceremonies in August that included a ribbon cutting, demonstrations and a barbecue. It replaces the tower at River City Hall, which Chief Hal Doughty said was outdated and could not be used with real fires because of its hollow cinder block construction. The new four-story tower is rigged with propane-fueled spigots that can be lit to mimic an actual fire and props can be arranged throughout the building to simulate an office, bedroom, living room, or kitchen.

What we've done in this facility is we've taken occasion to build our fire props in a way that we can do something as simple as, the firefighter shows up on the firetruck, pulls a hose line to the front door, and goes through that front door and encounters a kitchen that's on fire, let's say. Or, we can make it more complicated because they have to go around and through a stairwell lobby before they get into the kitchen. Or, they may get into the kitchen and knock that fire down and discover that the fire's moved around and into the hallway. Or they knock those fires down and the fire's extended to the bedroom above that. So we've stacked all those props in a way where we have the ability to go very simple, basic scenarios, or very complex, all the way to the point where we're utilizing two engine companies and a ladder company. We've got people on the roof cutting a hole in the roof. We've got an attic fire going with a bedroom on fire below that and a kitchen on fire below that. So, the opportunities are there for us to come up with a countless number of scenarios to build that muscle memory, to build those experience files for our firefighters, so that they are the best prepared they can be when we have a real incident.

Dowdy anticipates the tower will become a regional training asset for emergency responder agencies, including police and search and rescue units in the Four Corners.

We can partner with all of the local agencies to provide training opportunities, bring in our partner agencies from Upper Pine Fire from Los Pinos, from Fort Lewis, Mesa. We already do shared training opportunities anyway, but we think that this is going to really bolster the opportunity to train all of the firefighters in La Plata County, and then certainly regionally as well. Our colleagues from Farmington have come up already a couple of times to take a look at it. We're having conversations now about what it might look like to be able to create a college program potentially through one of the junior colleges that could teach college-level classes here and utilize that facility. So it really is a great deal more than just a facility that is going to serve Durango firefighters, it's really going to serve the region, I think.

The Durango Fire Protection District employs 180 full- and part-time professional staff and volunteers across 16 stations in a district that stretches from the San Juan County line to the North, to the New Mexico border to the South. "A well-trained team of firefighters and emergency responders will become more important than ever," Doughty said, "because the potential for severe or catastrophic incidents will grow with the continued increases in population and density."

We have to prepare our firefighters for anything that may come down the pike. That's what this facility is all about, is making sure that we have the ability to give them an opportunity to be safe and to practice their skill so that when it happens in real life we're there to answer the call.

If you'd like to know more about the new training tower, visit durangofire.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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