Grants from the state and local lawmakers like Dan Brady helped pay for the new facility. (photo by WJBC/Zach Dietmeier)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - Bloomington firefighters have a new training tool after the dedication of a new training tower.
Assistant fire chief Eric Vaughn said the new Multiple Hazards Training Facility on Hamilton Road will give local rescue personnel unique opportunities.
"We split it up into areas that we can do a lot of different evolutions at one time," said Vaughn. "Whether it's search and rescue, forcing doors, fire scenarios, ladders, this really encompasses everything you're going to find out on the fire ground."
The Bloomington Fire Department dedicated the $780,000 facility, which Vaughn said is one of a kind for McLean County.
"The closest training center we have access to- at least for burn centers - is the University of Illinois," said Vaughn. "This really brings training to home base."
The department is still learning what exactly the building can do both physically and strategically.
"Like any tool you need to learn to utilized it to its fullest potential," said Vaughn.
One partnership feature the Bloomington Fire Department has is with the Bloomington Area Career Center.
"It's one thing to go out in the yard and squirt some water," said Vaughn. "When you have an actual structure that you can do that in, it gives a whole set of new circumstances that really make you stop and think."
Vaughn said high schoolers interested in a firefighting career will be able to use the facility for training.
"We really want to look at the future," said Vaughn. "If somewhere in the future the next administrator or overseer wants to add anything, it's designed to do so with the right precautions."
New additions could include an elevator system and handicap accessible scenarios for bette, more in-depth training. The 4-story, 63-foot tall structure will see constant use from Bloomington, Normal, and other area firefighters.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.