By Sheryl Stanley
Students in the Cass Career Center fire science program are now practicing their skills in the new fire training tower on the campus of the district’s career and technical school.
Bill Shaumeyer, fire science academy instructor, put his classes through their first day of practice Feb. 29 on the tower.
“These young people are the next generation of firefighters and this tower will help us give them the training and tools they need to perform to the highest standards.
“We’ll use it for hose and ladder drills, team building, search and rescue drills and live burn testing.”
According to Shaumeyer, an instructor at CCC since 2016, finding a place to train wasn’t always easy. “Just about every fire science academy has its own training tower, while most local companies do not. In the past, we’ve used the towers at South Metro in Raymore and several other locations, but scheduling time was sometimes difficult because other area companies need to train just like we do.”
In the past, Shaumeyer put his students to work learning hoses and ropes in the automotive department’s garage when auto students were training in another area. He also had the students train with power tools outside between two wings of the classroom building.
“The only problem was we made so much noise with the tools that we disturbed the other classes inside.
“But now, this is like our island, away from everyone else, and no matter how much noise we make, we won’t interfere with others,” Shaumeyer said.
Shaumeyer worked with Custom Container Living of Archie to design the tower before it was built. The company also constructed a similar tower for the Dolan -West Fire Department.
The new tower is constructed of repurposed steel shipping containers with marine-grade plywood floors. It has two levels connected by an interior stairwell. A deck on the upper level allows students to practice hoisting tools and ropes and can function as an emergency escape route if needed. Another special feature, a vertical vent roof prop, gives students a chance to practice roof venting, a critical maneuver during a structure fire. Windows on the upper level allow students to practice ladder drills and search and rescue skills.
Shaumeyer said the tower also has two smaller rooms on one end which will be used for live fire drills.
“Students will enter in groups of three with hoses and tools. They will be responsible for putting out the fire and checking to make sure there are no live embers left that might reignite.”
According to school officials, the funding for the fire training tower came from the state’s CTE (Career and Technical Education) Performance Grant. The state education department supported the need for the project and gave special permission for use of the grant monies by CCC. There were also two local companies, Elliott Construction of Pleasant Hill, and Reasoner Grading of Creighton, that donated time and effort at no cost to the school.
In addition to use by the CCC Fire Science students, the tower will also benefit local fire departments, according to Jeanette Flanner, director of the Cass Career Center. “Many local fire departments give of their time, equipment and expertise throughout the year in working with our students. Some fire departments do not have their own fire towers, so we look forward to partnering with them from time to time to give back to them for all of the ways they support our students all year by sharing access when not in use by students. This benefits all of our fire houses and surrounding communities.”