Elmore County is the home of Millbrook, Wetumpka and Tallassee combination paid-volunteer fire departments and 17 other volunteer-only fire departments. Elmore County is adjacent to Montgomery County, home of our beautiful state capital. Being located so close to Alabama’s rapidly growing capital has meant that Elmore County is also experiencing rapid growth.
In the early 1990s, the Elmore County Firefighters Association, comprised of the county’s 20 fire departments, began a push to increase firefighter training in the county’s fire departments. In the late 90s, the citizens of Elmore County voted for a service fee to support the fire service across the county. In the original legislation, a percentage of this service fee was marked for countywide training. Chief Jake Strickland of the Wetumpka Fire Department worked with the Industrial Development Board of Wetumpka to acquire property at no charge to the Elmore County Firefighters Association on which to locate a new countywide training center. Using the new service fees for backing, the firefighters’ association built a 5000-square-foot training center. Currently, the center contains a 70-student classroom, a 40-person conference room, a reference library, offices, a kitchen and two offices housing the Alabama Forestry Commission for Elmore County.
The training center was completed in late 2001, and a Volunteer Fire Fighter class was held almost immediately. Since that time, not only have hundreds of fire fighters received training ranging from Volunteer Fire Fighter and Fire Fighter II to Mass Casualty Incidents and Planning but local EMS law enforcement, emergency management and other first responders have also regularly trained at the center. The training center has been a great boon to all first responders across the county.
In addition to the training center, the county association instituted a countywide Hazardous Material Team made up of personnel from the county’s fire departments. The association is also the proud recipient of a grant of over $300,000 for recruitment and retention programs designed to increase involvement and provide incentives for volunteering.