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Construction could begin next week on new firefighter training facility in Freeport

Posted: Mon, Apr 15, 2019 7:28 PM

The Decorah Fire Department's plans for a firefighter training facility on county-owned property on Old Stage Road in Freeport are coming together nicely.

Monday night Decorah firefighters met with representatives of the city's Public Safety Committee and the Rural Fire Association's board to provide an update.

Decorah Fire Chief Mike Ashbacher says the facility will include a three-story 24 foot by 40 foot structure which could simulate both house fires and apartment fires.  There will be a full-sized grain bin on site to simulate bin fires; a trench structure to practice trench rescues; a tree stand to simulate hunter rescues; and a garage to house car fire training.

"We're in pretty good shape," Ashbacher told the group, not just in terms of getting ready for the project, but in terms of paying for it--thanks to a $50,000 Depot Outlet grant and proceeds from several fundraisers.  Ashbacher says the new facility should have everything firefighters want in it.

The city and the county are in the process of working out an operating agreement for the training facility.  The training facility would be owned by Winneshiek County, so its insurance policy covered it.  The fire training facility would be managed by the Decorah Fire Department, but open for use by other fire departments within Winneshiek County, as well as other fire departments outside Winneshiek County which have mutual aid agreements with county fire departments to help in fighting fires within Winneshiek County.

If the groups involved sign their paperwork in the next week, as expected, Ashbacher says dirt moving will start late next week.  He believes the burn facility will be completed by fall, with just a few additional projects remaining to be done before the end of the year.