This article was written by Laura Camper for the Newnan Herald Times

The city held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Tuesday.

It’s a project Newnan officials have been talking about for several years, and it was included in the resolution approved by local voters for the 2019 special purpose local option sales tax. Voters approved allocating $1.75 million for an upgraded fire training facility. In May 2022, Newnan City Council members approved increasing the budget for the project to $3.8 million.

The fire training facility is located on 4.275 acres on Greison Trail, but at about 50 years old was outdated, said Newnan Fire Chief Stephen Brown.’

Brown, who has been using the old training center for about 27 years, was happy to say goodbye. “We’re fixing to get some really nice stuff,” he said.

The new facility will include a four-story training tower, a classroom, a new burn building and drafting pit.

“(The drafting pit) is a water source that we can check our fire engines with,” Brown said. “It’s just a way to test fire trucks’ pumps.”

Each fire engine’s pump equipment needs to be tested annually, he said. But fire trucks have changed so much over the years that the old draft pit is obsolete.

“Back then, pumpers were 750 gallons per minute,” Brown said. “Now, they’re 2,000 gallons a minute. So we can’t pull enough water out of there to test these trucks.”

In August 2021, Newnan City Council members hired Columbus-based 2WR and Partners to design the upgrades for $180,000. Atlanta-based New South Construction will be handling the demolition and construction.

Rob Ragan, vice president of New South Construction, said the tower — the last visible part of the old training facility — will be coming down by the beginning of next week. The steel for the new build was ordered months ago and will be arriving shortly, Ragan said.

The new training facility will be large enough for them to host regional training sessions, Brown said. It will have two burn rooms — one like a kitchen and one like a bedroom. It will have a smoke simulator and will all be fired with natural gas, which doesn’t give off the carcinogens of other fires, Brown said.

There are some 70 firefighters working for the Newnan Fire Department and the new facility will benefit them directly, not only in providing the mandated training and in motivating them to train, but in their safety, Brown said. “Their safety is No. 1 and it’s going to be better training facilities, which is safer,” Brown said.

“This will be, to my knowledge, as good a training center as anywhere outside of maybe the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.”

Mayor Keith Brady told the people gathered for the groundbreaking that the new facility was a long time in coming.

“They deserve this complex. They’ve deserved it for years,” Brady said of the firefighters. “We appreciate all of your hard work, all of your service, all of your dedication.”