Arlington County showed off its new $4.9 million fire training academy Tuesday.
County Board member Libby Garvey and members of the media got a tour of the facility, which is located at the county property yard (2800 S. Taylor Street) near Shirlington. The new fire training ground includes a seven-story tower, a sprinkler room and smoke generator, realistic stair and floor configurations, rappelling and rope rescue gear, and a below-ground storm drain system for technical rescue training.
The tower, in particular, is a new addition that allows firefighters to train in environments that are more reflective of the kind of apartment buildings now being built in Arlington.
“The multi-level building offers a variety of structural designs to simulate commercial, residential, basement, mid-rise and high-rise operations,” the county said in a press release. “Many of Arlington’s new buildings are high-rises, which require specialized fire-fighting training. Now, with the new facility, ACFD will be able to engage in more realistic training scenarios specifically tailored to the County’s needs.”
“Firefighters must continually adapt and learn new techniques to stay safe and keep up with changes in building construction and materials that are causing fires to burn hotter and spread faster than in the past,” the press release continued. “The in-county facility also provides savings in time, money and emissions previously spent sending fire fighters and recruits to other jurisdictions for critical training.”
In addition to fire and rescue training, the facility will be used by the fire department’s bomb squad, HazMat team and by the police department for certain training scenarios.
“The safety of our community is our highest priority,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “The new tactical facility provides our first responders with the most up-to-date training possible to help keep our fire fighters and community safe.”
Construction of the facility began in November 2012 and wrapped up in October 2013. A public open house will be held at the new fire training academy from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday (April 5).