Construction continues on firefighter training facility and memorial

By Ryne Turke on July 3, 2016 at 6:55am

A pair of construction projects tied to the Jacksonville Fire Department are nearing completion.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Doug Sills says construction on the training facility started in 2012 and is about 75 percent complete.

“And it has kind of been an ongoing process as we have training funds available and volunteer hours. It is a two-story training site, primarily for learning skills on fire operations, fire attack, hose line stretches and things like that. It is a multi-purpose area where we will be able to confined space entry training, high angle rescue training, ladder type training and ventilation. That is pretty much everything that evolves around our operations and response capabilities.”

Sills says this will be the first training facility in Jacksonville for firefighters to stay current on their skills and perform at a high level.

“Right now we send firefighters up to Champaign for the initial training. After that, we really don’t have any facilities to keep that training current and keep the skills where they need to be. This is going to have a huge benefit on us,” says Sills

“This is going to have a huge benefit back to the community, as far as ISO points. That sets the insurance rates for the community. We should be able to get some credit there.”

The 11 other MABAS Division fire stations will have access to the building, located on Oak Street, just north of the Animal Control Shelter. Nearly $25,000 has been invested in the training facility.

As for the newly remodeled memorial outside the West Lafayette substation….

“We are probably about two weeks away from completion. That monument was built by firefighters by in 1972, but due to maintenance concerns over the last couple of years, it became increasingly harder to get replacement parts and keep it operating. We have built it to last another lifetime and generation.”

The memorial is being funded through the City of Jacksonville, Jacksonville Firefighters Local 637 and Foreign Fire Tax Board. The total cost of the project is around $35,000.

Sills says the memorial will honor the firefighters who have sacrificed in Jacksonville. A ribbon cutting, opening of a time capsule and dedication ceremony is being planned.