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A line of people hold a segment fire hose ready to uncouple it.

The FTCC-Cumberland Fire & Rescue Training Center opened with a ceremonial hose uncoupling on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. [Photo by Brad Losh]

Fayetteville Technical Community College celebrated the opening of the FTCC-Cumberland County Regional Fire & Rescue Training Center on Monday with a ceremonial hose uncoupling.

The ceremony, which was attended by local and state-level dignitaries, unveiled the 24,000-square-foot training center that includes classrooms, offices, simulation labs, locker rooms and three fire apparatus bays. The state-of-the-art facility anchors an expansive training complex on 30 acres on Tom Starling Road.

FTCC followed the hose uncoupling with a groundbreaking ceremony for the Swift Water Rescue Training Center soon to be located behind the Fire & Rescue center.

FTCC President Dr. J. Larry Keen presided over the ceremony and recognized a number of partners who were key in bringing the project to fruition, including Cumberland County’s legislative delegation, the county’s Board of Commissioners, the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association, the state community college system and FTCC’s Board of Trustees.

“We’re so blessed to have so many great people out here,” Keen said. “This has been a dream that we’ve worked on for a number of years. It started off with a short meeting and that developed over time. It’s come together in a way that is absolutely phenomenal.”

FTCC President Dr. Keen speaks at a podium designed to look like the front of a fire truck.

The FTCC-Cumberland Fire & Rescue Training Center opened with a ceremonial hose uncoupling on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. [Photo by Brad Losh]

The complex’s completed elements include the training center, a four-story burn building, an area for trench collapse and confined space training and a memorial plaza. The training center welcomed its first classes Monday.

Fire Chief Freddy Johnson, president of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association, spoke of the shared excitement in opening the facility for which ground was broken nearly three years ago.

“For Cumberland County Fire Services, today is Christmas in September,” Johnson said. “I’m proud to be in front of our new Regional Fire & Rescue Training Center, which starting today will be operational in making sure that our current firefighters and first responders can maintain their skills or learn new skills and certifications as well as screen and certify our future firefighters, rescue technicians and first responders.”

The Swift Water Rescue Training facility will be equipped with an 88,000-gallon indoor tank created by Fathom Tanks of Georgetown, Tex. It will be equipped with pumps that can blast water at a flow of up to 7 knots, allowing first responders and others to train year-round for rescues in floods, swift-water situations and other water-rescue scenarios. The facility is expected to be completed by Spring 2023. 

Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, who was the Fire Commissioner from 2016-2020 during the heart of the complex’s planning phase, pointed to the growing need for swift-water rescue capabilities.

“This facility is going to impact so many people’s lives, and not just the people who come here to train, but the people they help,” Keefe said. “During Hurricane Matthew, we had over 150 swift-water rescues.”

A line of people use shovels to dig a patch of dirt in a ceremonial groundbreaking.

FTCC held a groundbreaking for its Swift-Water Rescue Training Center on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. [Photo by Brad Losh]

Keen said the training complex is more than a brick-and-mortar structure, serving as an opportunity to support the area’s dedicated first responders.

“This is more than just a building. This is more than just the culmination of some dreams,” Keen said. “It is the opportunity to not only say thank you, but to give a state-of-the-art training and educational facility to those that are going to be responsible for helping us in some of our most difficult times.”

The total cost of the complex is estimated at $47 million. The funding includes $11 million in state bond funding provided to FTCC; $10 million from Cumberland County; and $20 million allocated for the project by the N.C. General Assembly in the biennium budget passed last fall.

The Regional Fire & Rescue Training Center was designed by HH Architecture. Barnhill Contracting Co. is the project construction manager.

A fire truck in the foreground and a zip line with a rescue basket stretch across the background.

The FTCC-Cumberland Fire & Rescue Training Center opened with a ceremonial hose uncoupling on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. [Photo by Brad Losh]

For information about FTCC’s Fire Training programs, please visit or contact program coordinator Steve Drew at For particular inquiries about the Swift Water Rescue Training Center, please visit

FTCC serves more than 28,000 students annually with over 280 occupational, technical, general education, college transfer and continuing education programs. For more information, please visit or call 910-678-8400.