LINTON, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new firefighter training facility in Linton on Tuesday. 

It’s one of four stations being developed in Indiana as part of a program by the state to address “training deserts,” or communities where there aren’t any locations within 30 miles for new firefighters to simulate situations, according to Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones. 

“We’ve got training deserts where firefighters did not have a facility to train but they’re expected to be proficient, to be safe, we want firefighters to go home safe to their families,” he said. “Whenever they get off the truck and there is a fire, we want them to be able to get off, knock the fire down, to be able to do rescues.”

Jones said discussions have been ongoing for two or three years, and the state finally dedicated $7.7 million to build these facilities, which will be three stories tall and will allow new firefighters to practice real-life scenarios, something Linton Fire Chief Colton Murray said is crucial to ensure safety. 

“Your first fire you go into, it’s an eye-opener,” he said. “This is going to give guys the experience to see it before that time comes, and we want to make sure they’re prepared for that. This is a very dangerous job, can be life-threatening, so being prepared and executing your job will help protect yourself, other people, your other employees.”

While the Linton Fire Department will oversee the building, it will be accessible for other nearby stations– which was an important element for Jones. 

“Most of the volunteer fire departments could not have ever afforded to be able to build a training ground like this, and this now gives them the opportunity to do that,” he said. 

Murray said he’s excited to provide training for the next generation of firefighters, and a resource like this will make it easier for all firefighters in the area.

“We have many volunteer departments and they help us tremendously. We’d be lost without them,” he said. “Huge shoutout volunteer to the volunteer fire departments around us because they help us a ton. We want them to come over and train with us, for us to work together and respond together, it’s only going to make our job better and easier.” 

Jones said the estimated cost is somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000,000, but they aren’t sure as they continue to work out how much it will cost to develop the land. The state will cover the construction, while Greene County and the City of Linton will pay for work done on the surrounding land. The training tower will be located just south of the INDOT office in Linton, on S. 12th Street. 

The projected end date for construction is sometime in the spring of 2024.