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Fees to fund new burn room
Tower to house training facility
Burn Room
The burn house and tower will aid in training emergency responders. - photo by Submitted
Impact fees collected from developers locating in Dawson County will pay for a new fire training facility.
The new burn room and tower to be housed at Station 7 on Dawson Forest Road was the project Dawson County Emergency Services listed as top priority for impact fees collected. Impact fees are paid by developers to offset the impact new business, industry and residential places on public services.
"The burn room and tower was identified as our top impact fee project for a couple of reasons," said Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford. "Having a burn room building, number one, is good for ISO points to help in our planned reduction we're still working on, and number two, it's a very valuable training tool for emergency services."
The construction of the burn room and tower, which will be approximately $180,000, will allow emergency services a place to conduct controlled training at its leisure.
In the past for training, emergency services either had to acquire a structure to burn, which required going through EPD testing, took a period of time and was labor intensive, or send personnel to other counties or agencies that had burn rooms.  
"The construction of this is going to allow us the opportunity to have our own, and to train when we have needs," Swafford said.
While the firefighters will most likely benefit the most from the burn room and tower, the facility will also be used for a variety of rescue operations.
The CERT Team (citizen emergency response team) will also benefit greatly from having the tower, he said.
"Part of the CERT final exercise involves search and rescue, utility disconnects, and basic fire suppression with an extinguisher," Swafford said. "These are things we can do in this building. We're going to incorporate an actual gas shut off on the side of the building to simulate how to turn off natural gas. We're going to put a dummy electrical disconnect, so the participants can practice shutting the power off to the building. We want to make this as realistic of a training aid as possible."
Although a basic building, "without a lot of bells and whistles," the building will meet the county's needs, Swafford said.
Swafford said it is not often that emergency services has the opportunity to train with three story buildings. "The three-story tower is a new opportunity," he said.
Until now, most of the department's multi-story training was conducted at the fire academy in Forsyth, Ga. "As the county continues to grow, we're going to see more and more multi-level buildings constructed. Having this will enhance the ability of our people to prepare for emergencies in these types of situations," he said.
The Dawson County Board of Commissioners approved the  burn room and tower several months ago. The commissioners are expected to award the building contract to the lowest bidder at its next scheduled meeting, Thursday, June 5.
E-mail Michele Hester at