Towers will serve as a regional fire training resource
Johnston Community College celebrated the opening of a new fire tower training facility during a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday.
Named in honor of longtime college supporters Donnie E. and the late Linda V. Lassiter of Selma and their family, the fire tower training facility is located near the Public Safety Services Complex on the JCC main campus.
Consisting of 17 shipping containers assembled to create two different training buildings, the structures will serve as a regional training facility that will assist departments in training for large structure fires.
The total cost of the project is $488,613. The construction of this facility was made possible by three funding sources — private donation from Donnie and Linda Lassiter, allocation from the NC General Assembly facilitated by N.C. Donna White, and a contribution from the college.
Dr. David Johnson, JCC president, thanked the Lassiters for their private financial support as well as N.C. Rep. Donna White, who secured funding for the project through the General Assembly.
“The vision of the Donnie E. and Linda V. Lassiter Family Fire Tower Training Facility would not be a reality if it weren’t for the work of several valuable people,” Johnson said. “We hope that within five years we will have a regional fire training program and be the premiere fire academy of choice in eastern North Carolina. We are working to add the public safety administration program to our curriculum. We love to see our campus and community grow and flourish.”
Patrick Harris, a Johnston County commissioner and retired chief of the Smithfield Fire Department, reflected on the history of fire training at JCC and said the new facility will serve as a valuable training resource for firefighters all across the state.
“When I began my career in fire service more than 35 years ago, it was at this site that we gathered to train and learn how to save lives and property, how to understand the dangers we would be facing, how to look out for each other, how to go home to our families after the fire was over,” Harris said.
“Today’s dedication of this awesome training tower will further enhance the principles and lessons that have been a part of the very fabric of public safety training in Johnston County for many years,” he added. “I can think of nothing more fitting than for this building to be erected on this very site.”
The ribbon cutting and dedication was attended by some 100 firefighters, elected officials, and community members from Johnston County.
Fire training has been a critical public safety educational program at JCC for most all of the college’s 50-year history. In 1971, the college began offering fire-training courses through continuing education. In 2012, JCC added the fire protection technology associate degree. The college offers a three-month fire/rescue training academy as well as certificates in fire investigation and fire management that can be completed in two semesters.