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Columbia Fire Training Academy hoping to expand after animal shelter moves


When the Central Missouri Humane Society moves to a new home, the city is planning on using its current property on Big Bear Boulevard to expand the current Columbia Fire Training Academy.

A spokesperson for the animal shelter previously said they are hoping to decide on a property for a new location by the end of the year.

"The proposed plan is to expand the existing Fire Training Academy that is adjacent to the property," Deputy City Manager Mike Griggs wrote last week in an email.

The Fire Training Academy neighbors the shelter, and Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Heidenreich said the department could use the space for more classrooms, office space and storage space.

"We've noticed that we're having more and more classes that start to overlap," Heidenreich said. "And as additional staff is assigned down here, we are running short--if not out--of office space. We have some staff that are sharing offices."

Heidenreich said the department has been at the current training facility for around 50 years, and while it serves them well, the need continues to grow. The facility is the home of the department's recruiting school, and hosts many trainings and classes for current Columbia firefighters, as well as other organizations.

"It's a very busy facility, and I would say that every year that goes by, it only gets busier," Heidenreich said.

Columbia Fire recently opened Station 11 and is preparing to open Station 10 next year. Heidenreich said as the city grows and the department grows, there is a bigger need for training and education.

"The potential to have that land is a good opportunity for us when the time comes, and so we are excited for that potential," Heidenreich said. "We'd be eager to put it to good use and it certainly makes a lot of sense."

The training academy currently houses a main building with two classrooms and administrative offices, a shed for equipment, trucks and indoor training, a burn building for fire drills and a drill tower. Heidenreich said the facility is still fully functional, but some areas, such as the burn building, are starting to show their age.

"It would make a lot of sense for us to be able to grow into that space without a substantial cost of potentially someday having to relocate all of this somewhere else," Heidenreich said.

He said the extra space would allow for a better parking situation, as well. He said parking is sometimes an issue with fire trucks and other vehicles having to park along the driveway and sometimes along Big Bear Boulevard.

Heidenreich said the department expressed interest in the property to the city whenever it heard the shelter was looking to move. He said while everyone so far seems supportive, lots of planning and conversations still need to happen, including a master plan when the time comes.

"We certainly would do that to not only make sure that we're meeting the current needs of the department, but what are the needs going to be 10-15 years down the road if the department continues to grow?" Heidenreich said.

He said there is no estimated cost yet, and all plans will have to go through normal city policies and procedures. He mentioned this will not be an instant move once the shelter moves.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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