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Training tower opens for area firefighters

MOORESVILLE The Mooresville Fire Department on Thursday opened a six-story training tower where firefighters from across the Charlotte region will practice battling high-rise fires and making aerial rescues.

“It’s a great day for Mooresville and our neighboring communities,” Mayor Miles Atkins said. “Five years in the making.”

The $800,000 metal-and-steel building has two rooms where firefighters will train in putting out live fires. They also will practice search and rescue, confined-space and high-angle rescues, forcible-entry techniques and high-rise responses by a single fire company or multiple companies.

Mooresville has 25 multistory buildings, many of them four and five stories, so having the training building is critical, fire officials said.

The department, meanwhile, has received $2,000 annual fee commitments to use the tower from fire departments at Lake Norman, Shepherds, South Iredell, Troutman, Mount Mourne and Sherrills Ford.

Mooresville police plan to train in the building, and Statesville-based Mitchell Community College, which offers a basic fire and rescue training program, also will use it.

Mooresville police will practice crowd-clearing techniques in the tower. “We’ve seen in recent weeks how important that can be,” said Assistant Fire Chief Shane LaCount of Mooresville Fire-Rescue, referring to the Dec. 14 mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

The Davidson Fire Department and some Rowan County fire departments also intend to train at the facility. The tower is on 40 town-owned acres isolated from the public behind the Mooresville Public Operations Center on U.S. 21.

Mooresville and some other fire departments in the region have had to train at Gaston College in Dallas, which LaCount said has one of the nation’s premier training facilities. Gaston’s facility is at least three times the size of Mooresville’s tower, which is 3,200 square feet, LaCount said. The Charlotte Fire Department trains its firefighters at the department’s training academy off Shopton Road.

Mooresville’s tower, which is about 55 feet tall, will save the town costs of transporting firefighters to and from Gaston County, fire officials said. Gaston College is about 44 miles from downtown Mooresville.

On Friday, seven Mooresville Fire-Rescue instructors will train for the first time at the tower, followed next week by 75 Mooresville firefighters. For most, it will be just a few minutes from home.

Marusak: 704-987-3670; on Twitter: @ jmarusak
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