BALLINGER - A new fire training facility is under construction at the Ballinger Airport thanks to donations to the Ballinger Volunteer Fire Department.

BALLINGER - A new fire training facility is under construction at the Ballinger Airport thanks to donations to the Ballinger Volunteer Fire Department.

The new facility, which is being built almost entirely from sea containers, will give volunteer firefighters from all over the area the opportunity to train locally, rather than having to travel elsewhere to obtain the proper training required for all volunteers.

Robert Langston, a lieutenant with the Ballinger VFD, said $20,000 was raised and purchased 11 sea containers from a company in Dallas. The containers are nine feet wide, nine feet tall and 40 feet long.

Langston said the BVFD has been looking at this project since they saw a training facility in Floydada that was made of sea containers.

Over the past several weeks, the sea containers have been carefully stacked and welded, Langston explained.

Now, they are looking for donations to finish out the containers and are in need of pipe, tank battery stairs, wood and paint.

“We can take donations of materials as well as monetary donations,” Langston said.

Langston estimates that it will cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to complete the project.

And, they hope to get it completed by the end of 2018.

“It's the manpower and the time - that is the hardest thing to get done," Langston said.

So far, eight of the containers have been stacked and welded. Another three have been placed on a concrete slab where they will be built for use in fire fighting training scenarios. The others are 40 feet in the are and firefighters will rappel off of them.

“Our dream is to have an annual fire school that everybody in our area can come to,” Langston said. “Plus we can invite TEEX (Texas A&M Engineering Extension) to conduct training here.”

The Ballinger VFD operates on donations and grants and while the firefighters work with the Ballinger Fire Department - they only get a small portion of the BFD’s annual operating budget.

Langston, who has been with the Ballinger VFD for the past 10 years, said membership has gone from about 40 members in 2008 to 22 members today. Dwindling membership makes it difficult to send firefighters to training schools in numbers that will not affect the fire coverage for the area. He said the trend is affecting VFD’s in Miles, Rowena and Winters.

“There is a need behind the need here,” Langston said. “We can’t wait to get to that kind of membership (from 10 years ago) and not have a way to train and a way to be prepared.”

Langston said members are always wanted. Anyone interesting in signing up for the Ballinger VFD can call 325-365-5137 or go to the website at www.ballingerfd.com.

“If you have a purpose to serve, the department has a need for you,” Langston said. “You have to have the desire and the capability to commit to the training that is required to get you to a point to be able to serve, but there is always something someone can do.”

The Ballinger Volunteer Fire Department is a 501c3 non-profit organization.