The Creston Fire Department training center has been in the works for the past two years, and it’s about to get a $25,000 boost.
The Elks Lodge of Creston presented the funds to the volunteer fire department on June 7 at the fire station.
The presentation was a culmination of a year’s worth of work to get the grant money for Creston. “We worked with them (the fire department) when we heard this was a one-time grant that was available,” said Dave Neeley, secretary with the Elks Lodge. “We reached out to see what their needs would be. We felt it would fit well.”
Each state association of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has a state major project they support. The Iowa Elks’ major project is a fire safety initiative. “The project is designed to help protect the lives of people and their homes by educating youth and their families of the importance of fire safety,” Neeley said in a letter to the volunteer fire department.
The training center, located north of the Creston Fire Department, has been almost primarily built by the fire fighters with help from the city. “Fire department personnel did the rough framing, the stairs, cutting openings and wiring,” Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson said. “The city street department helped with the water tanks and they’re going to help us with the concrete.”
Jackson said they just installed two underground tanks for drafting water. The training area sits on gravel, but with the grant money, Jackson said they will be putting in a large concrete pad. In addition, he wants to get more props for the building.
“I want to fully build out the rooms,” he said. “I want to build some type of confined space and a grain bin rescue prop,” he said.
Though the money went to the Creston Volunteer Fire Department, Jackson said this training building will be available for other departments as well. “We are going to open it up,” he said. “We will invite neighboring fire departments to help with the project over the summer and then to be able to train on it.” The building provides the ability to do both basic firefighter training as well as other advanced training.
Earlier this month, the Multi-Jurisdictional Entry Team (MJET) utilized the training building with several firefighters to practice different forced entry techniques.
In the grant proposal, trustee Samantha Krantz wrote, “It will help with the retention of current firefighters, allowing them to work on current skills and develop new skills. It will generate an interest in fire service because the new training center will be available for members of the community to tour.”
The first conex cargo trailer was purchased via a state program grant more than a decade ago. Other departments were able to build extravagant towers with the money allotted to them, but Creston had less to work with - so they purchased the first skills trailer.
“The front of the building has a little maze for our air pack training,” Jackson said. “The exterior has forcible entry doors. There’s a pitch roof with vertical ventilation and a hole on the top to set up a confined space rescue.” Three additional 40 ft conex boxes now sit behind the shell of the original.
Last year, the state fire marshal toured the training building. “They were happy to see we built on to what we were given,” Jackson said. “Some departments built towers that have never even been used.”
The fire department will be hosting their fourth annual golf tournament Saturday, June 25 at the Crestmoor Golf Club. The cost is $160/team of four including the cart. The money raised will be put toward the project and continued support for the department.
Jackson said he hopes to have something that resembles a good, usable project by their open house in October.