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Medford Fire-Rescue takes training to the next level

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Firefighters utilizing the new Medford Fire-Rescue training facility at 2208 Table Rock Road will never get too familiar with the building’s interior, even if they use it hundreds of times.

That’s because training officials can modify the 3,000-square-foot, three-story building with movable walls and completely transform the environment, making for a variety of residential dwellings. That modular ability, agency heads said, will make for better preparedness and keep firefighters on their toes.

“It really gives us a lot more area with a lot more options,” Medford Fire Battalion Chief Tom McGowan said. “Flexibility — the ability to create different rooms and layouts, so really challenge the way we prepare to fight fires.”

Dedicated Wednesday, the building is designed to help trainees practice a range of skills, including confined-space operations, forcible entry, rope rescue and suppression tactics.

The structure was built adjacent to a concrete training tower that is static and doesn’t offer variety. Builders broke ground on the training facility in June, McGowan said. Between the materials and assembly, building the facility cost about $275,000.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, the department dedicated the building to the late Duane Venekamp, who served on the Medford Rural Fire Protection District No. 2 board as secretary and treasurer from 1973 to 2015. He started as a board member when a friend encouraged him to “check it out,” Chief Brian Fish said. He served as a board member the first two years of his service, transferring to secretary and treasurer in 1975.

“I wish I knew who Duane’s friend was, because the fire department owes that person a great deal of gratitude,” Fish said.

Dan Marcisz, current Rural Fire Protection District board secretary and treasurer, remarked that Venekamp was not interested in notoriety, but that the recognition is well deserved.

“I have a task for you,” Marcisz told firefighters in the crowd. “In the years to come, as new personnel come and labor within this building and train and stuff like that, it falls upon you to share with those people who this Duane person was and how much he meant to this department.”

Planning for the building started in 2009, McGowan added. The agency training committee at that time decided there was a need to expand training opportunities and skill sets for firefighters.

“That’s been on the budget requests for 10 years,” McGowan said. “This last year, we presented it to our rural district for their consideration and what that would entail. Through some conversation, we were able to share what that will bring as far as value for us and our training opportunities, and the rural board was fully supportive and committed to that.”

And now that it’s built and open, Medford Fire-Rescue is ready to make use of it for a long time.

“I think it’s invaluable. Not only for right this second, but also for the future,” McGowan said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Firefighters and guests walk through a new training facility at Fire Station #4 off Table Rock Rd in Medford Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune New training facility at Fire Station #4 off Table Rock Rd in Medford Wednesday.