Deputy Fire Chief John Greene said the $1.6 million facility will allow firefighters and cadets to train at a new Fire Training Center at Missouri 78 and Powell Road that includes a state-of-the-art burn building to simulate possible situations firefighters may face on the job.

Officials recently broke ground on a new training facility for the Independence Fire Department, and they hope by this time next year, firefighters will be on the receiving end of real-world training without the risk of an actual fire.

Deputy Fire Chief John Greene said the $1.6 million facility will allow firefighters and cadets to train at a new Fire Training Center at Missouri 78 and Powell Road that includes a state-of-the-art burn building to simulate possible situations firefighters may face on the job.

“This is something we need for the safety of our department,” Greene said. “It’s going to give (firefighters) real-world training in a safe, controlled atmosphere.”

Vanum Construction will handle construction of the fire training facility, due for completion in November of next year.

The project is funded by the public safety sales tax approved by voters in 2004.

“The Fire Department is very, very thankful for what the citizens have given us and trusted in us,” Greene said. “This shows that not only do they care, but they’ve put a vote of confidence in us.”

City Manager Robert Heacock likened the current firefighters’ training to that of a great baseball team that practices on a field with no baseball diamond, adding often times than not a firefighter in Independence had to learn methods of fire control at other fire departments around the area or, in some cases, on the job.

“Now our fire department will have a state-of-the-art facility,” Heacock said. “It’s going to advance not only the safety of our firefighters, but the safety of our community. The last thing you want to do is learn on the job. That’s how people get hurt. That’s how doubt sets in.”

Council Member Will Swoffer, himself a former fire chief in Independence, said the idea of a training facility had been in the works for years and the ground breaking ceremony signified a time that was long overdue.

Swoffer thanked several members of the public safety sales tax overview committee, city officials and former high ranking fire officials with the department who fought valiantly over the years to bring the project to fruition.

“This is a dream that goes back years,” Deputy Chief Greene said. “It’s been a long time coming.”