SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - From Rowan-Cabarrus Community College: Fires are burning at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College – but it's nothing to worry about, it's just the College's new Fire & Emergency Training Facility in action.
Earlier this summer, the facility held its first training with approximately sixty firefighters from Rowan and Cabarrus counties.
The first training included multiple fire departments and involved rescue training in the new burn building. While the first training didn't include actual fire, it did involve the use of artificial smoke to simulate a fire.
"We are so excited that we're finally getting started! The Fire & Emergency Training Facility has been a long-time coming," said Roger McDaniel, director of emergency services for Rowan-Cabarrus. "Firefighters have been asking me, 'When can we get out there? When can we start the training?' I'm so grateful the time has come."
Live burns will take place this fall in the burn building after the tempering and curing of the building is complete.
But that's not stopping the firefighters from making good use of the facility.
"We are able to do other training in the meantime," said McDaniel. "The building was made to do more than just live burn simulations. We are using it for rescue attack scenarios."
For instance, the firefighters can use the building to simulate an individual trapped inside a burning building.
"We can go in through the artificial smoke and rescue the individual," said McDaniel.
The College is planning a community celebration at the Fire & Emergency Training Facility on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014.
"We want to show the community the amazing things that our firefighters, law enforcement and emergency personnel do for our community. And we want them to see the fantastic new place that they will receive training," said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.
The Fire & Emergency Services Training Facility was the first project to be completed in a series of Rowan County-bond funded construction projects that will take place over the next few years.
The facility will serve an important role for training local public safety providers who protect citizens every day. The facility includes a 3,500 square foot burn building, training pads for various props, and a future driving course for fire and emergency vehicles will be included in the project.
In addition to the Fire & Emergency Services Training Facility, the College's planned renovation and construction projects include a 30,000 square foot addition with 18 new classrooms to the existing allied health building (Building 600).
"We are being very purposeful and diligent with the $12 million provided in the 2010 Rowan County bond referendum," said Spalding. "We will gain critical space for instruction and the expansion of new health programs."
The College is also transforming a former administrative building into instructional use, as well as increasing the accessibility of North Campus to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
"Our students were very passionate about this $12 million bond, and took it upon themselves to advocate on behalf of the College to their families, friends and neighbors," said Carl M. Short, chair of the Rowan-Cabarrus Board of Trustees. "Their efforts were so impressive that the North Carolina Community College System awarded them the Top 'C' award for excellent student leadership and involvement."
The College has a bond referendum on the ballot in Cabarrus County in the November 4 election. The $9 million bond would fund part of a new Advanced Technology Center in Cabarrus County. The county has promised and additional $2 million toward the effort if the bond passes.
"This $11 million investment provides most, but not all, of the $12.3 million that we need to complete this project," said Spalding. "The College is already working to secure additional funding to fill the $1.3 million gap."
In today's world, technology and manufacturing are constantly changing.
"What we're finding is that the jobs of today and tomorrow are high-tech," said Dr. Rod Townley, vice president of the College's academic programs. "The Advanced Technology Center will address training needs for companies with industry-recognized certifications and hands-on skills training in multiple disciplines. It could include training in Information Technologies (IT), welding, machining, HVAC, electronics and electrical engineering technologies, mechanical engineering, hydraulics, pneumatics and more."
The College currently trains students in some of these areas, including computer integrated machining, welding and engineering, but the College is running out of space and unable to expand and update the programs to the degree required. Construction of the new Advanced Technology Center would provide the space to upgrade equipment and begin to do more advanced, technical training that will lead to higher paying jobs for graduates, and a more productive workforce for industry.
"All of our training programs are designed with a great deal of input from local business and industry to ensure that we are developing graduates that will be well-prepared for the workplace," said Townley. "We meet regularly with industry representatives to be sure that we understand their specific workforce needs, and will be able to produce graduates that will be 100 percent work-ready. Our intention is to serve the community in the most important way that we can, and that is to prepare the citizens of this county for stable, high-wage jobs of the future."