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A sketch of the plans for the outside of Trenton's proposed fire training center

Volunteer firefighters in Trenton, Ga., hope they don't have to travel for training much longer.

City Commissioner Jerry Henegar, who also serves as a lieutenant with the fire department, announced during a meeting last month the city is planning to create a fire training center off Industrial Boulevard. Fire department officers want to build the center inside a pair of 40-foot-high metal shipping containers, which the city already bought.

Assistant Fire Chief Ansel Smith said the city's 18 volunteer firefighters now have to practice at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, a city 200 miles southeast of Trenton. Often, Smith said, that means they have to take time off work to train.

Henegar said during the commissioner's meeting last month that firefighters also train in nearby Walker County, according to Discover Dade, a local online news outlet. But actually, Smith said, the team rarely goes over there because it belongs to the county; Trenton's firefighters have to wait and use it when it's available.

The price on the city's operation isn't clear. Smith said the fire department's three chiefs, two captains and two lieutenants will soon meet to decide what they need in the center. Then they will seek approval from the city commission.

Mayor Alex Case did not return multiple calls or emails Wednesday asking what price range the city commission felt comfortable spending on the center.

"It's one of those things," Smith said. "We've got to figure out what we want, and then we'll go through the commission and get it approved."

Smith said the officers will need to debate how many burn rooms they want, and where they want to put them. Those are rooms where the department can burn things so firefighters can practice extinguishing flames. Often, Smith said, they simply set wooden pallets on fire and let the staff do their thing.

He said the department will keep the burn rooms separate from other sections of the center to protect the other training areas. Those training areas probably will include a maze, in which firefighters will have to maneuver in their gear up and down stairs and through corridors.

"With tight spots," Smith said. "And [simulated] roof collapses. We want you to get used to working in your gear in tight places."

The firefighters would also use the center to practice propping up fallen walls, roofs and furniture that might catch fire. They also would train on how to break through walls during an intense fire (helping them get into other rooms), as well as how to lift a fallen firefighter through a window.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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