Volunteers Build Their Own Tower
—Photos by Asst. Capt. Michael Stuttard. Clinton. N. Y.. Fire Dept.
A dream was fashioned into reality when fire fighters in two New York State volunteer fire departments donated many hours of their labor to build a four-story training tower.
It all started with Chief Ron O’Neil of the Clinton Fire Department wondering if the advantages of training at the Oneida County drill tower, 10 miles away, outweighed the disadvantages of stripping the area of fire protection by sending Clinton’s ladder truck, one of its three engines and personnel to training sessions at the county facility. It took many weeks of thought and discussion, most of it during our weekly bull sessions after drills, to conclude that the construction of our own tower was a reasonable possibility.
Our plans and pipe dreams were brought into sharp focus the night O’Neil announced that the Town of Kirkland (the major part of the Clinton Fire Department’s district) would provide materials and a site behind the town garage, adjacent to White Creek.
Plans were drawn, the site was staked out, and skepticism was replaced with awe as the Clinton Fire Department, with the assistance of the Deansboro Fire Department, proceeded to erect the Clinton-Deansboro Fire Training Tower in a month and a half at a cost of under $2500. Most of the work was done under lights and on weekends. Members experienced in construction work provided instruction and encouragement for the rest.
Wherever possible, materials were obtained through donations, although all block, mortar, cement and form timbers were purchased. For instance, we were invited to take steel salvaged during the demolition of a building and we were able to transform an exterior fire escape into the interior stairway of our tower.
Now two small volunteer fire department, protecting about 10,000 people, can provide more efficient service as a result of increasingly effective drills under actual fire conditions without reducing the coverage of the district .
To increase the usefulness of our training ground, a flammable liquid pit, hydrants, and hard surfacing of the area are planned. The possibility of using the facility for regional fire schools also is being considered.