It’s not available for birthday parties, but the Columbia County Fire Rescue training facility is now for rent.
County commissioners Tuesday approved a plan establishing fees and guidelines for allowing outside agencies to use the fire training center in Appling near the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
The fire service, which previously was a private entity operating as a contractor to Columbia County, recently became a county department. Outside agencies occasionally use the training facility, and that’s now at a cost to taxpayers, said Columbia County Fire Rescue Special Operations Chief Danny Kuhlmann.
“We’re not out to market it,” Kuhlmann said. “A lot of departments don’t have a facility to use, so they ask to use ours, or Richmond County’s or Fort Gordon’s. We’re just being compensated for the electricity and fuel they use at the facility.”
Grovetown and Harlem firefighters won’t be charged for use of the facility, county officials said.
Rental fees range from $100 per day for use of the center’s training tower, to $300 for the tower and the burn building, where fires can be simulated. Users also would be required to pay for a Columbia County Fire-Rescue operator or instructor to be on site during the training at an additional cost of $28 per hour.
Outside agencies visiting the facility can use it to test the pressure on their pumps with a state-of-the-art pressure tester, Kuhlmann said, along with practicing rappelling, firefighting, search and rescue and ladder operations – “basically, all the skills we do,” he said.
Despite being charged for use of the facility, nearby agencies would save money from not having to pay for travel, food and lodging costs for sending firefighters to train at state facilities, Kuhlmann said.
“Being able to do it locally, all they have to do is get the truck and the personnel over here,” he said.