Construction is currently underway for a new Fire Training Grounds that is being developed just outside McPherson. The facility is expected to be fully operational in April 2017.
“This is a joint facility between CHS [Refinery] and the McPherson Fire Department,” explained T.J. Wyssman, a division chief at the McPherson Fire Department. “It is unique to this area because there’s nothing like it. It’s industry, private and public together.”
Wyssman was reporting at the weekly city commission meeting where a $25,000 payment was officially authorized from the city to CHS, which is bearing the brunt of the financial burden for the facility that will be used jointly between the refinery and McPherson County firefighters.
“It should be a county-wide asset as well,” Wyssman clarified. “So we’re going to bring in all the county fire departments for training, not just McPherson Fire.
“And that facility is going to aid in all facets of our response to all hazards,” he continued. “Those hazards would be fire suppression; HAZMAT; and technical rescue.”
Wyssmann went on to credit various department officials, many of whom were also present at the city commission meeting.
“We have a lot of cooperation throughout the city,” Wyssman said, gesturing toward the audience. “Mr. Woodward and Mr. Burns here; their departments; the street department with Gerry Tillett (Street Superintendent) ... they’re actually contributing to the construction as well as the golf course and park department [who] have contributed to planting grass and other items that they’ve done out there.”
Once the new facility is established as a training site for current firefighters, the intention is to start using it as a training grounds for new firefighters as well.
“Right now we’re just trying to get the foundation built,” Wyssman said. “We do see that there will probably be several assets that will be brought in to train. Like I said earlier, we’d like to do a county-wide fire school once this is up and running.”
To that end, Hutchinson Community College will likely play a role in the new fire school at some point in the future.