The Greensboro Fire Department five story drill tower, a landmark since it was built in 1956, will be demolished next week.
The drill tower is at 1510 N. Church St. just north of Cone Hospital which had only been open a couple of years when the drill tower was built and the portion of Church street it’s on was a dirt road. There was also a long gone, railroad spur between the drill tower and the hospital. The area has changed quite a bit in the 63 years the drill tower has been watching over it.
The drill tower was initially built for firefighters to practice procedures that would be used in fighting fires in high rise buildings and was outfitted with standpipes and sprinklers, but that system is no longer operable and the main use of the building now is for physical training for fire recruits. It is also used as part of the Fire Fighters Ability Test used to ensure applicants are physically able to perform the duties of a firefighter. Since 1956 every firefighter employed by the city of Greensboro has trained at the drill tower.
Even though the drill tower was used to train firefighters it was never burned, which was a huge disappointment to some of the kids who rode past everyday, hoping one day that it would be blazing.
The drill tower was built in 1956 with bonds passed in 1947 which means back in the middle of the last century the city was no better at spending bond money in a timely manner than it is today. Not only the drill tower but the entire training center was built for $202,000.
New training props are being built to replace the drill tower, to provide current fire department employees with more technical and realistic training to better prepare them for emergency situations in buildings built to today’s codes which were considerably different in the 1950s.
The training props are expected to be set up on the training grounds by the Spring of 2020.