The fire department holds a final burn at the training center

On Wednesday May 4, the firefighters said “goodbye” to their former training center in a symbolic way. They staged a final burn, where firefighters extinguished one final fire at the Charles A. Smallwood Training Center on Tinker Drive.

The fire was followed by a demolition of the old building to prepare the site for the construction of a brand new state-of-the-art training facility.

“It’s bittersweet, because we’re losing a bit of history, but we’re gaining something more,” said Deputy Fire Chief Reco Stephens, who served as training chief for nine years. “It’s like having your first home. This is our first training center. I want to cry and smile at the same time.

The old training center was built in 1984 by Macon-Bibb firefighters. It has been used for over 30 years to train thousands of firefighters. The new training center should open by the end of the year. The $2.8 million center will be funded by voter-approved Local Options Special Sales Tax (SPLOST) dollars.

“We are excited to see what this new training facility will do for our Class 1 firefighters and firefighters from across the state who will also come here to train,” Chief Shane Edwards said. “We can’t wait to see construction begin.”

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