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Fire department training center under construction

by Rachel Dickerson | September 13, 2023 at 9:09 a.m.
Photo by Cassi Lapp, Communications Director, City of Bella Vista The Bella Vista Fire Department training center is pictured. To the right is a building that contains a large training room and two bays for apparatuses. To the left, a five-story training tower is being constructed. Behind the five-story tower a two-story fire-resistant structure for live burns will be built.

The Bella Vista Fire Department's fire training center is under construction and slated for completion by the end of the year.

Cassi Lapp, communications director for the city of Bella Vista, explained what the center will look like when complete.

She said the whole facility will include, first of all, a building with offices, a big training room, restroom, shower and a bay large enough for two apparatuses. It will hold an ambulance and a fire engine -- older models that are reserve units used for training and that do not respond to emergencies unless all other units are already in use.

Next to that building will be a five-story training tower with an adjoining two-story building that will contain burn rooms. She explained only the two-story section is meant for burn rooms because it will be covered in flame-resistant tiles, and it would be cost prohibitive to cover the entire five-story tower in the flame-resistant tiles. Firefighters will actually set fires inside the two-story structure and put them out, she said.

The five-story training tower will be used for climbing training, ropes training, rappelling, etc., she said.

"There's a world of opportunity for their training there," Lapp said.

The rest of the area will have six inches of concrete pad used for driver training. She explained fire trucks cannot be driven on a regular driveway because the truck will crack the concrete, thus the extra thick layer. There will be a large area where firefighters can set up courses to maneuver trucks around obstacles and practice backing up the trucks and doing any other type of driver training needed.

Clinard Construction, which built fire stations 3 and 4, is the construction company for the project. As of Sept. 11 the company had 68 days left on their contract to complete the tower portion.

"The building is already up and they are working on the interior," she said. "They hope to have it completed by year-end."

The facility is being built with the assistance of funds from the $24.3 million bond issue voters approved for public safety. This bond issue also helped build the Bella Vista Public Safety Building on Forest Hills Boulevard and Station 3.

Other construction projects

In addition to the fire training center, preliminary plans are in the works for a renovation to Station 1, Lapp said. Preliminary plans are to put living quarters on the first story of the former police department and a day room with a kitchen and living room on the second story.

An addition is planned with offices, and the current offices and bays will be enlarged into a larger bay area, she said.

Also, plans are being made for city hall offices to be renovated, she said.

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