Craig With cool temperatures ruling the day in Craig on Saturday, keeping warm was no problem when Craig Fire/Rescue unveiled its new training facility to the public.
The live fire training tower, neighboring Thunder Rolls Bowling Center on Industrial Street, celebrated its grand opening Saturday with more than 100 residents coming to check out what the tower is all about. With guided tours and demonstrations throughout the four-hour event, CFR did its best to educate the public.
“It’s nice to see a good turnout. I thought we might not get many people because of the weather,” said Byron Willems, president of the fire board. “I think for the fire board, it’s more of a relief than excitement because it’s finally done.”
The tower, which has two rooms that burn live fires and can pump smoke throughout the facility, encountered resistance and concern during its proposal and planning period, but Willems and the board always were convinced it was a good investment.
“This allows them to do everything here that they used to have to do elsewhere,” Willems said about the training benefits.
On a tour of the facility, firefighter Shane Krause agreed.
“This whole building is built on the practice of safety,” Krause said. “To send someone into a situation without that live training is just not safe.”
Krause and other firefighters gave locals tours of the facility, showing them the variety of situations that can be set up, including moveable walls, a break-down door, and a room simulating an attic and a crawl-space. The tower rises five stories and features a rope-rescue simulation at the top.
“There’s wall breach, floor breach, a forcible entry door,” Willems said. “It’s not just for fire. That’s the part that everybody gets a hold of, but it’s way more than that.”
In the two burn rooms, only wood pallets and straw are burned. During demonstrations Saturday, light smoke poured out of the windows and doors and dissipated quickly as it rose.
But the burn rooms are mostly going to be used to get accustomed to being around a fire, Krause said.
“We don’t have to burn to do a lot of the training in this facility,” he said. “The fire is more for the feeling, dealing with visibility and heat.”
The $1.5 million project came in just under budget, Willems said, and was "worth every penny."
"When it's all said and done, I think people will be pretty happy with this," he said.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.