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SPLOST: Officials cut ribbon on fire training tower at Maxwell High School of Technology


County officials held a ribbon cutting to mark the opening of a four-story fire training tower built on the campus of Maxwell High School of Technology at 990 McElvaney Road in Lawrenceville on Tuesday, November 14. The project is the result of an intergovernmental agreement between the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners and the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

The tower will allow firefighters and students to practice skills that will prepare them for response and mitigation of emergency situations in multistory buildings. Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash said she is grateful that the County’s fire crews have this opportunity to bolster their skills.

“Our partnership with the school district gives current and future firefighters the chance to practice crucial, life-saving techniques,” Nash said. “Gwinnett residents and business owners will benefit from an increasingly skilled and knowledgeable workforce thanks to the training opportunities the new tower provides.”

Gwinnett County Government’s $530,000 contribution to the $600,000 facility was funded by revenue from the 2009 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The remaining balance was paid by the school district.

Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks emphasized that the collaborative effort would not have been possible without support for the SPLOST and E-SPLOST programs.

“Gwinnett County Public Schools takes pride in the good use of taxpayer dollars, and I know the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners does the same,” Wilbanks said. “We appreciate our residents’ willingness to support this project, which will benefit the community for years to come.”

Maxwell High School of Technology currently offers courses in both fire service and emergency medical service, and crews from nearby Fire Station 20 often help teach Maxwell students.

Dr. Jeff Hall, Principal of Maxwell High School of Technology, said that the tower is another way Maxwell continues to offer its students cutting-edge opportunities to learn. 

“With the exception of live fires, our students are going to be able to do anything from breathing apparatus training, maze training, and ladder training in this building,” Dr. Hall said. “We’re also going to be able to do cross-curricular activities at the tower with our EMT program, our law enforcement program, and our fire services program.”

The Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services will use the tower for training in search and rescue operations, emergency medical care, hose advancement, fire sprinkler and standpipe systems, ground and aerial ladder placements, and hoisting techniques.

“With the increasing development in our county and the number of tall buildings coming to Gwinnett in the years ahead, it’s crucial that our crews are able to safely learn and practice techniques for fighting fires in multistory buildings,” said Gwinnett County Fire Chief Casey Snyder. “This tower allows them to do just that while educating the next generation of firefighters.”

Fire and Emergency Services has so far hired 12 former Maxwell students.

The County and the school district will share responsibility for tower maintenance.

Photos of the ribbon cutting may be viewed on Flickr, and video of the event is available at to view on demand here.