During the Burnet City Council meeting December 10, councilors voted unanimously to approve the installation of a fire training tower with an upgrade.
Previously, the training site used a CONEX box fire unit, a kind of converted shipping container building, to stage fire scenarios.
“Before, we were going pretty old school,” Burnet Fire Chief Mark Ingram said. “You light it on fire and the object is to get the fire out, but there’s no monitoring system, no nothing.”
The city put the tower in its 2020 budget at a total cost of $130,000 for a “very basic structure,” according to the December 10 council agenda. Earlier this year, the Lower Colorado River Authority presented the city with a $50,000 grant toward building the tower. And, according to city officials, since that time, Emergency Services District No. 7 has indicated it would contribute another $50,000 toward the project.
With those grants, city officials believe this “gives us the opportunity to upgrade the tower to a more aesthetic and functional facility” at a cost of approximately $215,000, according to the council agenda.
The approved unit, which is produced by WHP Training Towers, has features that mimic things firefighters encounter during structure blazes, including doors and windows. The structure is built so firefighters can also rappel off of it, practice using their ladder trucks, and even cut into the structure.
“We have that slanted roof, so we can train on cutting roofs. That’s a big deal when we have structure fires,” Ingram said. “There’s a lot of injuries that happen with that skill right there, which is why we added that upgrade right there.”
When constructed, the fire department plans to lease the tower out to other departments to offset its cost. The nearest such tower firefighters can use for similar training is in Cedar Park.