Call 9-1-1 in an emergency, and first responders will always come to help us.

So when Southwestern Oregon Community College reached out for help closing the fundraising gap on a new Fire Training Tower in 2023, SWOCC Foundation was pleased to be a “first responder”.

Fast-forward to today, the new tower is open and serving as a fire and rescue training hub for students pursuing careers in structural firefighting and emergency response. That’s not all. The College is making sure this $1 million investment also will support ongoing professional training 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 the accelerating rate of wildfires near residential areas, it becomes increasingly important for our rural firefighters to be adequately trained. This new lab will allow us to do that,” said Foundation trustee Carolyn Thompson.

Now that municipal and volunteer fire departments also using the new fire tower lab, crews no longer have to leave the region for training. The College’s partner school Columbia Pacific Maritime also plans to provide professional mariners with maritime firefighting certification classes. Soon, this will be 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, including:

  • 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.

SWOCC Foundation also invests in fire science students by providing scholarships to assist with tuition and help students buy fire uniforms and safety gear. To learn more about giving to scholarships, call us and let’s chat (541) 888-7209 or donate now.


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