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2 New Training Structures Approved for Santa Barbara Firefighting Complex

After SBFD makes case that existing 4-story tower no longer supports range of necessary simulation, Planning Commission OKs permits to add buildings

Santa Barbara firefighters will get two new structures to help simulate live firefighting scenarios at the department’s training facility on the Lower Eastside. 

The Fire Department will install two prefabricated steel structures at the training complex at 4 S. Calle Cesar Chavez.

The Santa Barbara Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved conditional-use and coastal-development permits for a one-story, 240-square-foot structure and a second, two-story, 930-square-foot building.

The current four-story tower at the site is more than 3 decades old and no longer meets all of the firefighters’ needs.

“The tower, due to 30 years of burning inside of it, can no longer support live fire training due to the structural integrity concerns that it raises if we continued to burn,” Fire Chief Pat McElroy told the commission.

Firefighters have used the facility since 1979. It’s a multiagency training center, used by firefighters from SBFD and the county, Montecito and Carpinteria-Summerland fire departments. Crews will still use the four-story tower for other activities, including ladder and hose drills.

In addition to fire agencies, the Santa Barbara Police Department uses the facility for SWAT training drills. Firefighters also practice quickly ripping open cars to simulate vehicle extrication practices.

In 2014, SBFD held 47 training days at the complex.

Using wood, but not flammable chemicals, firefighters will simulate first- and second-story fire scenarios inside the new buildings.

Planning Commissioner Deborah Schwartz said the new structures will be great for the community.

“I am really pleased we are doing this,” she said. “The public at large is going to benefit from this. You are helping to keep the community safe.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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