GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- For first responders, being well trained is imperative to saving lives. That’s why the Grand Junction Fire Department's lack of a live fire training facility is a big problem.
“Not having that structure is not allowing us to provide that regular and consistent training to our firefighters that they need,” Gus Hendricks, deputy fire chief at GJFD, said.
That’s about to change though, thanks to the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention. They got a federal grant, worth more than $500,000, which will fund most of a live fire training facility here in Grand Junction.
“We can use our own equipment and do something real quick within the days as opposed to extending the days, or turning those into multiple days in other communities,” Hendricks said.
Firefighters are required to have a certain number of hours of live fire training per year to keep their certifications and meet national standards, but right now the department depends on surrounding agencies’ live fire training structures.
“When it comes to actual live fire training, we have to send our firefighters outside of Mesa County,” Hendricks said. “We’ve gone to Gypsum, Rifle, Rangely in order to accomplish this live fire training.”
So you may be asking yourself, what exactly is a live fire training facility? Well, it’s essentially a fireproof house of sorts that firefighters can use to make their training more realistic.
“A live fire training facility is a multi-story structure that has rooms within that structure that allow us to safely conduct fire activity,” Hendricks said.
The process is already well underway, the grant requires the structure to be built by June 1 of next year. The fire department plans to build the structure on Whitewater Hill just off of 32 Road, north of Highway 50.