Community partnership, shared vision bring premier fire training tower to Butler

Published August 2, 2016 at 09:24 am Butler Fire Science students fight a man generated fire in the new tower

Capt. Troy Jellison was all smiles Friday morning as a crowd gathered on the giant slab of concrete behind Fire Station #2 in El Dorado.

They were gathering for a ceremonial “uncoupling of the hose.” A fitting twist by fire training educators for the dedication of their new fire training facility on Friday, July 29.

Butler Community College administrators along with El Dorado Fire Department and City of El Dorado representatives were also smiles. Their vision finally stood before them; a three-story state-of-the-art fire training tower for use by not only Butler’s Fire Science Program, but the El Dorado Fire Department and other emergency management personnel in the area.

Dr. Kimberly Krull, Butler Community College president, in her welcoming remarks offered thanks to the community partners who made it possible. “The amazing addition of this fire training facility is not only for our students, but also for our city, county and all of us in south central Kansas.”

Partners contributing either funds or services to the project included Butler Community College, the City of El Dorado, HollyFrontier, the City of Towanda, Dondlinger & Sons Construction, MKEC Engineering, Inc., and Westar Energy. Construction on the tower was initiated this past spring.

“This facility will be used by all sorts of individuals and all kinds of groups,” Krull said. “It’s really this shared vision that’s created this opportunity that’s going to benefit and leave a significant mark on this community and this part of the state.”

Herb Llewellyn, El Dorado City Manager, praised the involved entities for their willingness to work outside of the norm. “This is how the people in El Dorado think. It’s only because people looked at the goal and vision together.” He pointed out that neither the fire training tower nor Fire Station #2 which houses Butler’s Fire Science residency program would be a reality had people not been willing to consider working together in a unique way.

“This is a tribute to how we come together to benefit our community and our customers,” Llewellyn said.

El Dorado Fire Chief Steve Moody took a moment to acknowledge the project’s beginning.

“The Training Tower project got its beginning around three years ago as a request of mine and Captain Tony Yahghjian’s for left-over sales tax funds. The dream project was to build a training tower.”

Moody added that while their request was accepted, they couldn’t move forward until they could figure out how to acquire the additional funds needed.

“So, here we are today giving our thanks.” Moody added his appreciation to those involved for seeing the need of a tower without having its construction be a tragedy-driven one.

According to Anita Mills, Dean of Health, Early Childhood, and Public Safety, the new facility will provide Butler students and area emergency management personnel hands-on training to learn and to hone critical skills to help keep the community and the region safe.

“Safe together is what this project means,” Mills said.

According to Capt. Troy Jellison, Butler’s Fire Science director, few college programs in the nation have anything like this facility to utilize for student training. Following the short program, Jellison had his Fire Science students demonstrate several components of the tower including the burn room, smoke features and simulation for high rise evacuations.

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