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On Wednesday, May 4, the Fire Department said "goodbye" to their old training center in a symbolic way. They held a Final Burn, where firefighters put out one last fire at the Charles A. Smallwood Training Center on Tinker Drive.

The burn was followed by a demolition of the old building to prepare the site for construction of a brand-new state of the art training facility.

"It's bittersweet, because we're losing a bit of history, but gaining something greater," said Assistant Fire Chief Reco Stephens, who was Training Chief for nine years. "It's like having your first home. This is our first training center. I want to cry and smile at the same time."

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The old training center was built in 1984 by Macon-Bibb firefighters. It was used for more than 30 years to train thousands of firefighters. The new training facility is set to open by the end of the year. The $2.8 million center is going to be funded by voter-approved Special Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST) dollars.

"We are so excited to see what this new training center will do for our Class 1 firefighters and firefighters across the state who will come here to train as well," said Chief Shane Edwards. "We can't wait to see construction begin."

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