Reporter

Osceola County debuts new $6 million fire training facility

The $6 million state-of-the-art facility will allow firefighters to simulate real rescue operations in a fire-resistant 44-foot tower, engage in hose and hydrant evolutions, ground ladder work, rope rescue and aerial operations.

Just nine months after breaking ground, Osceola County debuted its new 11-acre fire rescue safety training facility Tuesday behind Gateway Airport in Kissimmee.

The $6 million state-of-the-art facility will allow firefighters to simulate real rescue operations in a fire-resistant 44-foot tower, engage in hose and hydrant evolutions, ground ladder work, rope rescue and aerial operations.

Instead of participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony, fire officials and local leaders held a hose “uncoupling” ceremony.

After, Osceola County Fire Rescue Chief Rob Sorenson led a group of curious bystanders and commissioners on a tour of the new fire training tower – which has already been used in training scenarios.

“Training is important to everyone,” said County Commission Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb at Tuesday’s event. “We want our firefighters to be safe - everybody goes home.”

For years, Osceola County’s 325 paid firefighters had to make a 25-mile trek to Mid Florida Tech in south Orlando to complete vital certifications and training.

So in 2012, Osceola County Fire Rescue submitted a request to County Manager Don Fisher for the county’s own training facility, and the department allocated money from its capital improvements fund every year to pay for the new facility.

The county acquired the property – located near Kissimmee Gateway Airport – about four years ago after the lot went up for sale.

The site on Pershing Street once served as an Army Air Corps training base before and after World War II.

According to a county press release, the facility complies with National Fire Protection Association standards that help establish insurance rates for residents and businesses and the new campus may help lower rates.

Another fire training facility is on its way in Osceola County.

In January, the city of Kissimmee announced plans to construct a new police and fire training facility off Pleasant Hill Road.

Phase II of the city project is set to include a training-rappelling tower and a burn building with an early cost estimate of $1.6 million.

The city of Kissimmee set a January groundbreaking date but later postponed the event. A new date has not been set, according to the city of Kissimmee’s Public Information Officer Melissa Zayas-Moreno.