Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis has long desired a first-class fire training facility, for more than two decades by her account. Thanks to money supplied from the state budget, she’s going to get it.
“Finally, after so many years, the call to invest in the Central Valley’s fire service was heard,” Donis said. “The regional fire training center will serve the Central Valley and the entire region of the fire service and its members for years and generations to come.”
The city announced $25 million in state funding at a ceremony to announce the proposed location at Central and Hayes avenues, southwest of the city. The state-of-the-art facility will be built on 80 acres of city-owned land, adjacent to the existing police training facility.
“I have a goal to never lose a firefighter in the line of duty — easy to say, hard to do. And it requires us to put our money where our goals are, and that is to be able to build this training facility for them, not only our Fresno Fire Department, but for all of our regional firefighters that are going to be taking advantage of this,” Mayor Jerry Dyer said.
WATCH: Fresno Officials Announce Fire Training Facility Funding
Only Water Rescue Training in the West
The new fire training facility would replace the current 85-year-old site. It would also be able to accommodate 10 times as many trainees at a time, up to 200 compared to the current 20.
Firefighters would train in dealing with hazardous materials, search and rescue, and railway emergencies. But, Donis was most excited about swift water rescue training. It would be the only such type of facility west of Texas.
“This will be a premier destination for fire training in the Central Valley and on the West Coast.
WATCH: Swift Water Training Course – Fort Worth, Texas
No Firm Timeline on Construction
Dyer said there is no exact timetable on when the training facility will be built, as it depends when the state money comes through. The city has already invested about $400,000 in designing the facility. Dyer expects construction to last 18 months once started.
While the money will be funneled through the city of Fresno, the fire training facility will be open to fire departments across the Central Valley region at no additional cost because it is funded with state money. However, other fire departments may chip in for training instructors.
“I am one of the cooperative partners in the region that this particular fire training center will have a massive impact upon,” Kingsburg Fire Chief Daniel Perkins said.
Dyer said building a larger training facility near Fresno will keep firefighters closer to home.
“The more time that they’re traveling, the less time that they’re fighting fires,” Dyer said.
Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, who helped secure the funding, said funding training is a way to combat climate change by being prepared to fight fires.
“It’s going to be an investment for all of California, not just the Central Valley, not just Fresno. Because an investment in Fresno, an investment in the Central Valley is an investment in all of California,” Hurtado said.