The career fire department in Cushing, Oklahoma has the constant stress of knowing they’re “on call” to help protect a pipeline system taking on up to 50 million barrels of crude oil daily. Plus, hundreds of tanks that hold more than two billion gallons of crude oil in reserve.
With less than 8,000 people, Cushing, Oklahoma is known as “The Pipeline Capital of the World.” It’s protected by 24 accomplished full-time firefighters at the Cushing Fire Department. To hone their skills, the county recently purchased The Lieutenant all-steel training tower from Fire Facilities, Inc.
“Our fire department is responsible for the suppression of the largest above ground oil storage in the United States,” says Deputy Chief Dalton Novotny with Cushing Fire Department. “This includes numerous underground crude oil transportation pipelines. In addition, our single station responds to both fire and ambulance needs for a 325-square-mile area in eastern Payne County.”
Funding and Selecting a Training Tower
Identifying the need for a training structure has been a vision of the Cushing Fire Department administration for more than a dozen years. When land became available directly near the station, city officials started the search process in earnest.
The training structure was funded with a 1/16th of one percent sales tax for municipal and rural fire departments in Payne County, Oklahoma. According to Novotny, Cushing Fire Department is a member of the HGAC group, which made the purchasing process easy.
“We had a group dedicated to looking at several training facility vendors,” says Novotny. “Ultimately the decision to invest in a Fire Facilities structure was made due to the ability to customize the tower to our specific needs. We needed precise options that Fire Facilities could provide. Also, the aesthetics of The Lieutenant on the exterior was important to us since it would be located right next to our main station.”
Customized Training Structure
Made in the USA of all-American steel, the customized Lieutenant created for the Cushing Fire Department stands 34-feet high and has a burn room annex on both the first and second floors. There is a parapet roof guard with a chain opening atop the four-story fire training building. This allows for easy rappelling and roof exercises.
“Budget played a big role in selecting The Lieutenant,” says Novotny. “We felt that this model was able to accomplish the needs of training that fit structures in our response area, as well as some of the other specialized training that our members have. The ability to attack an above grade and below grade fire was a ‘must have’ in our tower.
“Before the tower was erected we had very limited ability to train with ropes and high angle rescue. That is no longer an issue with this structure. The fire department’s technical rescue team can now spend hours training on every aspect of their duties without having to ‘verbalize or visualize’ certain situations.”
The Cushing Fire Department plans to use the tower three times each week, one day a week for each shift. Live fire evolutions will be a joint training day once a month between all members of the department. The department also envisions having joint training days with neighboring fire departments, in order to build relationships and share training knowledge.
The Two C’s
According to Novotny, convenience and confidence are two great benefits of the new training facility.
“The location of the new tower is directly behind our fire station, within walking distance of the back door,” says Novotny. “This is very convenient to our staff members. Plus, in the event we’re training on-shift and there’s an emergency, we can respond immediately.”
The aspect of building confidence on The Lieutenant is even more important.
“We are a young department,” says Novotny. “Our main focus has been training new members with one or two years on the job to the level of a six or eight year firefighter. This tower is crucial in building skills and confidence in these young members. It will allow them to perform at a high level on the scene of an emergency in an efficient manner.
“The investment made in The Lieutenant training structure will have a solid return on investment for our fire department, our members and the community as a whole.”