Southwestern Oregon Community College will officially open its new Fire Training Tower on Thursday, May 23, 2024 on the Coos Campus, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay. The College invites the public, students, firefighters and other partners to celebrate this accomplishment and tour the four story, state-of-the-art firefighting lab from 4 to 6 p.m. Local fire department personnel will be on site, along with the college’s student firefighters.

The tower will serve as a fire and rescue operations training hub for Southwestern’s students pursuing careers in structural firefighting and emergency response. That’s not all. The College anticipates this $1 million investment also will support regional safety and enhance annual disaster response training events that can bring together lifesavers from fire departments, the U.S. Coast Guard, medical facilities, and ambulance firms.

With this investment, regional municipal and volunteer fire departments from western Douglas, Coos and Curry counties will have ongoing opportunities to train at the College close to home without leaving the region. Southwestern’s partner school Columbia Pacific Maritime also will have the ability to provide professional mariners with maritime firefighting certification classes, which represents a new opportunity for mariners.

The modular 36-foot-tall steel structure meets International Building Code/National Fire Protection Association standards. It provides students, volunteers, and professionals space to practice a variety of skills:

  • Interior search and rescue,
  • Live fire drills to learn fire behavior and suppression,
  • Safe ventilation operations,
  • Aerial firefighting,
  • Rappelling and ladder training,
  • Day and night fire drills, response and rescue,
  • Maritime/vessel fire response and rescue.

“It took us three years of planning with local fire departments to design and complete the project. This work has made our relationships stronger and the College’s fire science program more advanced, which helps students achieve even greater success,” said College President Patty Scott. “It also ensures quality training opportunities for rural volunteers so that the College is able to keep a pipeline of highly trained firefighters moving into departments as older professionals retire.”


Previously, the College used a wood-frame tower built by volunteers with donated materials in 1981 for limited training. The wood structure did not meet industry standards, and could not be used for live fire or rescue drills. With the new tower, the College also was able to expand and improve the training area around the tower, allowing better access and more people to train together at one time.


“Through hard work and determination by College staff and local fire agencies, the new fire tower is ready. This will serve as a symbol of pride for years to come, and provide an effective manner in which to train not only today’s firefighters, but tomorrows as well,” said Coos Bay Fire Chief Mark Anderson.


The project was funded with grants and donations. Organizations that made this project a reality are SWOCC Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, Bandon Dunes Charitable Foundation, City of Coos Bay, North Bend Volunteer Firefighters Association, Central Coos Fire & Rescue; and the State of Oregon via the work of Sen. David Brock Smith, Sen. Dick Anderson and Rep. Boomer Wright.


Student Housing

Recreation Center

Curry Campus

Parents & Families


Campus Store


Pathways & Degrees


GED & Pre-College Education

Job & Workforce Training

Maritime Classes

Community Classes

Small Business Dev. Center

CARE Connections


International Students


High School Partnerships

Pay For College

Tuition & Fees

Financial Aid


Campus Safety

Accessible Education Services
TRIO Programs
Career Coach
Skip to content