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Training burn tower to be operational by September
Burn tower pic
Grading for the county’s new burn room and training tower began last week. The new impact fee funded training facility, which will be located at station 7 on Dawson Forest Road, will be fully operational by mid-September. - photo by File photo

Workers moved the first loads of dirt last week to make way for the county’s new fire training facility.


The new burn room and tower, to be housed at station 7 on Dawson Forest Road, is expected to be complete and fully operational by early September, Dawson County Deputy Chief of Emergency Services Tim Satterfield said Thursday.


With the county’s public works department preparing and grading the site, as well as pouring and paving the asphalt for additional parking at the station, the county saved thousands toward the project’s overall cost of $180,000, according to Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner.


Funded entirely by impact fees collected from developers locating to Dawson County to offset impact on public services, such as roads, schools, fire and police, the training facility will better equip emergency services personnel in saving lives, in addition to saving taxpayers money, Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford said. 


The new training facility is expected to reduce the county’s ISO rating, which determines the cost of homeowner’s insurance based on emergency service’s ability to serve its citizens.


The county will also save in travel costs associated with training, Swafford said.


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.


The corrugated steel constructed building with Padgenite components geared to withstand heat up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit will stand three stories and provide “a valuable training tool for emergency services,” Swafford said.


It is not often that emergency service personnel have 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,” Swafford said.


Designed with simulated gas and electrical disconnects, repelling anchors on the roof for rope rescue and replaceable “chop outs” at the roof level, the training tower will give emergency services personnel the most realistic training aid possible, Swafford said. 


“We hope through the construction and its intended utilization, we can use it to assist our personnel in achieving a greater level of competency and do that conveniently, because it’s going to be here,” Swafford said.


While firefighters will benefit the most from the burn room and tower, other county agencies, such as CERT, will also be able to improve service operations.


The building will be delivered the second week of August, followed by four or five weeks of construction before the building is fully operational.


E-mail Michele Hester at