TYNDALL AFB, Fla. (WMBB) — After five years of recovery efforts from Hurricane Michael base officials are calling Wednesday morning a ‘crowning’ moment.
“It’s encouraging now five years down the road,” Chief of the Natural Disaster Recovery Division with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Robert Bartlow said. “A lot of planning, a lot of effort, a lot of resources have been expended. And we’re starting to see the fruit of that labor.”
Bartlow has been part of the Tyndall rebuild since day one.
“I can tell you, being here after the storm as an engineer, it was difficult to envision how we were going to get after rebuilding the space,” Bartlow said. “And it was a daunting task.”
After Hurricane Michael damaged both the fire training facility and several stations. The base was forced to relocate firefighters and trainees to temporary facilities.
In all, Tyndall will be home to three new training facilities and a new firehouse that could withstand both population growth and future natural disasters.
The fire station cost $12.9 million to build. While the training facilities cost $22.9 million.
“They’re all built to withstand 165 miles per hour winds and built above the projected storm surge levels,” Bartlow said. “So these these facilities aren’t going anywhere.”
Officials said the new facilities came with upgraded equipment that will help first responders protect and serve.
“We give students an opportunity to really test themselves and push themselves outside of their comfort zone and understand in a controlled simulated environment exactly what a real deployment feels like,” 801st Red Horse Squadron Major Freddie Stephen II said.
Tyndall officials said residents can expect more and more facilities to open up over the next couple of years.