Jul 01, 2012 Stephanie Bouvia Uncategorized
Town of Onondaga officials, firefighters and police say the new burn tower was a long time coming.
The old tower, built in 1987, was used to train firemen in navigating smoke-filled buildings, handling hose lines, rescuing someone from a burning building and much more. But over the years, it deteriorated.
“The old training tower was coming up to 30 years, and due to the amount of use that it had, the wear and tear of doing live burns started to catch up to it,” said Onondaga Fire Training Center president Tom Sauer. “It was just time to replace it with something that’s newer.”
The organization held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 30, to unveil the Fire Training Center burn tower to firemen and town officials across Central New York.
The tower, funded by taxpayers, is not only used by the eight fire departments in the town of Onondaga (Howlett Hill, Navarino, Nedrow, Onondaga Hill, Sentinel Heights, Southwood, South Onondaga and Taunton), but also Fayetteville, Minoa, DeWitt, Kirkville, Camillus and Madison County fire departments, just to name a few.
The new tower comes with safer and more advanced technology that will help further the training of local firemen, and ultimately, help save more lives.
A history of the training center
In 1982, the first president of the Onondaga Fire Training Center, Darrell Burton, began to inquire about how to obtain land to set up a training center for local firemen. He negotiated with then-town supervisor Paul Wicker for quite some time before the center was able to move forward, he said.
“For the next five years, there were many struggles and many accomplishments. It took years of paperwork and phone calls to Albany, especially, to finally get our non-profit status,” Burton said.
In June, 1982, the Fire Training Center of the Town of Onondaga received five acres of land, at 4600 Nixon Park Drive, as part of a 13.7-acre donation to the town by Joseph Scuderi.
“That was a major accomplishment,” Burton said.
But it also came with a lot of work.
The organization was responsible for clearing the land, which at the time, was just “wild land,” Burton said.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the original tower in 1985. At the time, the tower cost $120,000.
The fire training center is made up of four buildings: the roof ventilation station, a classroom/mass conference building, the old tower and now, the new tower.
The classroom/conference building is made up of two different temporary buildings that were once used by the Onondaga Central School District.
“We actually took those two buildings apart, and made them into one,” Burton said.
At the time, Burton said, the members of the training center never imagined that they’d be able to get light and heat running in the buildings.
“I think [the members of the training center have] come a long way,” Burton said. “I’m very proud to have been a part of that. I’m very proud to know that they have carried on the tradition of getting this established.”
The building, which cost $600,000, comes equipped with brand new technology, which allows for more in-depth fire training.
The new tower comes with a standpipe system, will allows firemen to go through sprinkler training. Firemen will be able to simulate search and rescue missions, chimney fires, high-angle rescues and more. They will also be able to control the heat within the building to prevent any damage to the building itself.
The building is made of stainless steel, instead of the pagonite (similar to dry wall), that the old tower is made of, which is much safer for the men and women inside.
Sauer, the president of the fire training center, said he’s looking forward to proving more up-to-date training for the firemen.
“We can pretty much train from the beginning firefighter, right up through the most advanced firefighter, all between the whole facility,” he said.
A job well done
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Onondaga Town Supervisor Tom Andino commended the persistence, hard work and determination of everyone who had a hand in developing the training center throughout the year.
Getting to this point was not easy, he said. There were many meetings and disagreements over the space, “but it got done.”
“I think this building is the best fire training center in this county,” Andino said, “and probably the best, if not one of the best, in this state.”
He said he hopes to see the new tower instill a sense of value in the firemen, and inspire them to continue working as hard as they can to serve and protect town residents.
“Never forget, it wasn’t Tom Andino or the town board that made this possible. It was the taxpayers of this town. They’re the ones who have paid for this. They’re the people that we are here to serve,” Andino told the firemen during the ceremony.
Sauer, the president of the fire training center, said he is already looking toward the future.
“My mind’s always thinking about what’s next,” he said. “But we have some other ideas we’d like to put into play.”
Those ideas include renovating the old burn tower into a smokehouse for future training, and offering classes at the center.
“That’s going to be the next thing we’re going be really honing in on, is ways that we can teach ourselves within the town, and ways to be proficient within the town, as a group effort,” Sauer said.
The center will likely be in development for years to come, as the firemen look to advance their training, Sauer said.
“We will continue to look for ways to improve this facility, and offer more training opportunities at this location,” he said. “Our thing is to get it bigger and better.”
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