A training tower for the Viroqua Fire Department will be built east of the fire station, which is located at 702 E. Broadway.
The Viroqua City Council approved the VFD financing of the training tower project and related land deed and contract agreements at its meeting April 30.
Viroqua Fire Chief Chad Buros said plans for the training tower began three or four years ago when members of the fire department discussed the biggest needs that weren’t covered by the budget. One of the needs was a rescue truck, which was purchased a year ago using money the firefighters raised. The second was the training tower.
Buros said the reason the training tower was determined to be a need was because it has been getting more difficult to get into structures for such things as ladder training.
“The tower is the fix to our problem; there will be no worry of damage,” Buros said. “There was a lot of discussion.”
The tower will be four stories high and have multiple rooms. The overall footprint will be 24 feet by 40 feet. Buros said the tower will offer many kinds of training scenarios, such as search and rescue, hose advancement, standpipe operations, ventilation, roof work, aerial operations, chimney fires, ladder work, rope rescue and confined space.
Buros said there will be the capability to “smoke up” the tower, which will help with firefighters’ smoke training, and help with fire prevention and education of the public so they can see the conditions and learn how to get out of a smoke-filled building.
Live burns will not happen in the new training tower. Buros said the fire department does have a burn trailer that they use for that type of training.
The training tower isn’t just for the Viroqua Fire Department’s use. Buros said other Vernon County communities’ fire departments will also be able to use the tower for training, as will law enforcement. “Our intention from Day 1 is to offer it to different departments,” he said.
The training tower will be built out of cargo containers. The tower will be constructed by Cary Specialized Services of La Crosse. The containers will be delivered next week, and construction of such things as doors, windows and stairwells, will be finished on location. So far, concrete has been poured for the foundation and dirt has been leveled for the parking lot. Construction is expected to be complete by October.
“This is huge for Viroqua and the surrounding communities,” Buros said. He said the tower will allow departments to train close to home.
“Any time we can train and work together, the better we are at the emergency,” Buros said.
He said the having the training tower will better firefighters’ response in the department’s fire district, which includes the city of Viroqua, town of Viroqua, town of Jefferson and town of Franklin, and elsewhere in the area.
The planning process for the fire tower began in the fall of 2017, and fundraising started in the fall/early winter of 2018.
Buros said the total cost is about $260,000. So far, $185,000 has been raised by the firefighters, and there is more money to be raised. Anyone interested in making a donation may contact Angie Lawrence at the Viroqua Area Foundation or Buros at the fire department.
“We appreciate those who have contributed so far,” Buros said.