New Training Facility Helps Muskogee Firefighters Prepare

Friday, May 15th 2015, 6:04 pm
By: News On 6

A five-story-tall training tower built from shipping containers is now open in Muskogee allowing first responders to learn the latest techniques to save lives.

Police officers and rescue teams will be able to test their skills on this tower.

The fire chief hopes to make the facility a new training hub for Eastern Oklahoma.

First responders spend a lot of time preparing for the next big call. In Muskogee, firefighters had to go elsewhere to stay current with their training.

“For four years we haven't had anything to train on, so this is a big deal for us," Muskogee Fire Department's Mike O'Dell said.

MFD Chief Derek Tatum said, "Classroom will only take you so far. We had a lot of on the job training which is not ideal; it's not the safest environment. At least with this facility we can control our environment and train our new firefighters."

The building simulates just about every scenario a first responder or firefighter could encounter on a scene.

Some of the rooms are designed to look like the inside of a house and can be filled with smoke to blind firefighters.

“We tried to do it as realistically as we could," O'Dell said.

Other features allow firefighters to learn how to cut through doors and bust through walls. Search and rescue teams get to repel off the side of the tower.

Police departments will use the narrow hallways and corridors for tactical training.

Taxpayers voted to fund the construction through a capital improvement tax.

The project also received grant funds and contributions from several county departments.

“Now that we've got this facility we can really make it hot," O'Dell said.

The facility is already being put to use.

Tonight, Oklahoma State University is hosting a weekend-long course for 200 firefighters from across the state.