Fire brigade forced out of training facility due to flooding

By: Cole Miller

For most firefighters, water is a good thing. That's not the case for the Cooper Nuclear Power Plant's Fire Brigade.

Last summer's record flooding has forced them out of their training center, but it isn't stopping them from perfecting their skills. With the hose ready, firefighters charge down the hallway. Slamming a door open, coming face to face with flames.

It's the annual training for the Cooper Nuclear Power Plant's Fire Brigade. With last summer's devastating floods along the Missouri River, they're training area is unusable, so they've come to Bellevue.

Firefighter, Bert Lechner, says this type of training keeps them ready in case of an emergency. “Being as prepared as we could be. We didn't know that was going to happen with the river. Fortunately, all of the levees on our side on, on this side of the state held,” said Bert Lechner, with the Cooper Nuclear Fire Dept.

But saving the plant is important too. “If we can save a piece of equipment that's going to cost millions of dollars, perhaps we can keep the plant online, or bring the plant online quicker,” said John Shrader with NPPD Fire Safety.

Keeping the 105 person brigade up to speed on the latest training makes sure they can do their jobs. Like any profession, a textbook can only teach you so much. That's why these firefighters can hone their skills in real life activities where the heat is on.

“The hands-on is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. We apply those academics here on the hands-on,” said Cooper.

Officials with the power plant can't say for sure when their training facility will be reusable again. They say it could be at least a few more months.