MILES CITY – A special public unveiling happened Saturday for a new, live-fire training center for Miles City firefighters.
You don’t have to look too intently behind the Miles City Fire and Rescue’s firehouse on Main Street to see the new storage boxes that make up their new fixed burn facility.
They were installed in November by an Arizona company that builds these types of training centers for fire departments around the country.
Inside, it’s dark, with removable panels to change so firefighters can adapt to new scenarios.
The best part, according to firefighters, is the training center can burn wood and essentially replicate a real house fire.
That’s something Chief Branden Stevens says some of his firefighters have yet to experience.
“A couple of our guys, their first time being in a fire was going to that fire. They didn’t have the training,” he said.
However, now they will.
“They will know what they’re up against before they are actually out there,” said Stevens.
The storage boxes are fabricated with steel and can be moved around to create a maze. And firefighters can train for not only fire, but confined spaces and high-angle rescue.
Stevens said this is something a department like Miles City desperately needs to keep the public safe.
Miles City Fire and Rescue responds to over 1,600 calls a year in an area of 3,700 square miles. And 300 to 400 of those calls are fire related.
Stevens said it was $250,000 for the fixed-burn facility, a cost the department is paying for through an existing fire training fund.
Stevens says before the training center the department would spend between $12,000 to $14,000 a year sending firefighters out of district to train. Now that money will go to pay back a low-interest loan on the training center.
“So our budget didn’t increase,” said Stevens. “We just got creative with our budget.”
Miles City Fire and Rescue will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the training center on Saturday at the station on 2800 Main St.
The public is welcome to attend and Stevens says he’s happy to answer any questions the public may have.
Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News