Swansea fire chief on new fire department training facility
After 10 years of saving money, the Swansea Fire Department is installing a three-story training facility made of brand new shipping containers at Station 2 on Huntwood Road.
Chief John McGuire said before this $170,000 facility, crews — including all of the volunteer firefighters in Southern Illinois — would have to travel up north to Champagne for training, often requiring those volunteers to use vacation time at their jobs.
The structure is made of modified shipping containers built for trainings that recreate real-world conditions under monitoring to ensure safety. McGuire said crews will be able to train for a variety of skills, from rope repelling to fire rescue training in a stainless steel room that can reach temperatures up to 800 degrees.
“Pretty much, it’s endless — the training evolutions that we are going to be able to perform on this building,” McGuire said.
He anticipated the containers would be in place by the end of Tuesday and that training would begin within the next two or three weeks.
The fire chief said the money for the facility came mainly from a 2 percent fire department tax imposed on out-of-state insurance companies and fundraisers such as barbecues and bingo events.
“So we’ve been saving out money for about 10 years for that,” McGuire said. “...We’re proud of it, especially because we can tell our taxpayers that the money they paid isn’t going to this, we funded it ourselves.”