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'Public safety will be our #1 priority': Firefighters get new training academy in Macon

It cost $3.2 million to build the seven-story facility

MACON, Ga. — Did you know Macon-Bibb County has a Class 1-rated fire department?

The department says that means you get a better rate on your home insurance.

To keep that high standard, first responders need to train constantly, and now they have a state-of-the-art facility where they can work harder to keep you safe.

Lieutenant Garin Flanders is pretty proud of the new Macon-Bibb Fire Training Academy.

He headed up a committee to get all the seven levels in place.

"There were times we were up till 1:00 in the morning," he said.

The ten rooms came with a price tag of $3.2 million -- the lion's share of that came from SPLOST money, and the rest from the general fund.

It all paid for three burn rooms, "Which are rated up to 1,500 degrees for eight hours," Lt. Flanders explained.

They have an attic simulator and an elevator shaft where folks can train for rescue scenarios.

Credit: Suzanne Lawler

Macon Mayor Lester Miller said commissioners didn't waste much time deciding to build a new facility once they toured the old one.

"We are a Class 1 Fire Department and our facilities did not show that," Mayor Miller said.

Before he spoke at a ceremony Wednesday, Miller got some help rappelling down the tallest side of the building, but he says it's not a jump to figure out why they felt this center is a priority

"Public safety will be our number one priority," he said.

"Our long-term plan is to make this a regional training facility to where the guys at the Georgia Public Training Center they can come down and train," Flanders projected.

The Macon-Bibb Fire Department has reached out to other departments to come and train, and all they have to pay is the cost of instructors and the fuel that's used in the training.

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