Pembroke Pines firefighters will soon be training in their own backyard.
A new fire training complex costing nearly $1.4 million will be built on Southwest 208th Avenue just north of Pembroke Road. The complex, which will be on the north side of the existing police training center, will include a four-story, smoke tower connected to a two-story home with a garage that will serve as a base to practice fighting simulated fires.
"We now won't have to compete with other fire departments to use a central facility, and we are close to [the areas] where we respond," Fire Marshal Dave Raines said. "We will have the capabilities to simulate actual fire conditions, practice high-angle rescues and use ladders for rappelling. It will be convenient because we will be able to make our own schedule."
The department now trains at the Broward County Fire Academy at the Davie campus of Broward Community College. There also are training centers in Miami-Dade County and Coral Springs that are used by a number of fire departments.
The new Pembroke Pines complex also may be used by other departments, Raines said.
The $1.4 million needed to build the complex will come from the city's municipal construction fund, which contains money carried over from year to year or until such time as a project has been completed, City Manager Charles Dodge said.
The City Commission recently selected Jacksonville-based The Haskell Co. to design and build the fire training center. Haskell has built all of the city's charter schools, the cultural arts center at the Academic Village, some city parks and a number of other city-owned structures.
Jimmy Sanchez, the Fire-Rescue Department's division chief of training, said the department has wanted its own training center for about 10 years.
"It will be cost effective to keep the equipment in the city and important for response," said Sanchez, who will oversee the complex. "We hope to be using it in less than a year, by next September."
To meet state guidelines, firefighters train daily during their work shifts and also attend formal training programs every year.
"You are required to have 24 hours a year of training per firefighter at a formal training facility, and now we won't have to go out of the city," Sanchez said. "We have got to be trained to a certain extent so it just becomes instinct."