WEST MAHANOY TOWNSHIP -- Firefighters in Schuylkill County have a new tool to help them learn how to battle flames.
Crews tested a new burn building near Frackville Saturday, getting it ready for training volunteer firefighters for years to come.
Dave Sattizahn from the Schuylkill County Volunteer Firefighter Association didn't think the new building would be a reality so soon.
"When we first started, we didn't think it'd be reality here we are a year later and it's ready to go," said Sattizahn.
It took five years to put together the $1.6 million needed to build the facility in West Mahanoy Township.
It is designed to train firefighters from 105 volunteer companies from across the country on how to handle a fire.
Mark Higgins is a volunteer firefighter with Good Intent fire company. He believes the new tool will give fire companies the ability to get the practice they need to help them fight a real fire.
"It gives you the ability to advance hose lines into a structure. We don't have this type of facility anywhere else in the county, gives us really good practice when we have to get up and do the real thing," explained Higgins.
The old building was deemed unsafe and torn down last year and this new training tool, which consists of about ten rooms is expected to last half a century.
"The advantage is we can do our training local here, our structural burns and our live burns right here in our county," said Frank Zangari the Training Committee Chairman. "Instead of sending those firefighters to other counties or to safe fire academy in Lewistown, we're able to do those burn classes right here in the county."
State and local government pitched in, along with fire companies and businesses to cover the cost.
The building resembles a row home, something not all too uncommon for crews in Schuylkill County to face when a fire breaks out.
Frank Zangari added, "That's going to help the firefighters on the inside understand how fast the fire is going to move, what kinds of things they're going to run into."
"When they did the design, it`s a fantastic design, it does it replicates a lot of the structures we encounter in the county in our first due areas," explained Higgins.
In a few weeks, the burn building will be fully ready for training.
Approximately $1 million is still needed for maintenance and upkeep at the new training center in Schuylkill County.