Ground was broken Wednesday for the Arkansas Fire Training Academy's new residential facility at Southern Arkansas University-Tech.

The ceremony brought around 150 people to the AFTA grounds.

Dr. Jason Morrison, SAU Tech chancellor; Dr. Trey Berry, SAU system president; Col. Steve Eggensberger, Governor's Office; Rachel Nix, AFTA director; and Chief Shane Dallas, Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Organization, took turns addressing the crowd. Each presenter thanked everyone who has a part in the construction project.

The need for a housing facility on the grounds of the Arkansas Fire Training Academy has long been advocated by the state's fire service. Governor Asa Hutchinson heard the need and took action in providing funding.

The facility will be 39,000 square feet and provide sleeping quarters, dining and lounge areas, study areas, offices, and more.

Construction is expected to start in a few days and be completed in December 2020.

Morrison said he was thankful for the work of everyone involved, and that the project has been made possible because of the work and advocacy of the fire service, and the support of Gov. Hutchinson.

The AFTA operates under the governance of SAU Tech and is part of the SAU system. The AFTA provides statewide training to an average of over 20,500 students each year by delivering an average of 11,400 classes to firefighters.

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