COLLEGE STATION, TX - The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) broke ground on a two-story operations complex at the Brayton Fire Training Field named in honor of longtime Fire Chief Henry D. Smith on January 6.
The Henry D. Smith Operations Complex will include a welcome center, communications center/scenario observation area, three large classrooms and an assembly hall. The 14,000-square-foot building represents the first major construction project at the Brayton Fire Training Field since the September 2000 completion of TEEX's Emergency Operations Center, which is located adjacent to Disaster CityTM.
"I thank you for this honor and I'm accepting it on your behalf because you're the ones that made this school famous," Smith told those gathered for the ceremony.
Smith, of Bryan, led TEEX's former Fire Protection Training Division from 1957 to 1986 and is credited for expanding the agency's reputation internationally. Smith's involvement with the fire service in Mexico and his commitment to addressing issues shared by firefighters on both sides of the border led to the creation of TEEX's training programs for Spanish-speaking firefighters in 1966.
Additionally, the Brayton Fire Training Field doubled in size to 120 acres under Smith's leadership, leading to new training programs for industrial fire brigades, liquefied natural gas, hazardous materials and building code inspectors.
Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering for The Texas A&M University System, told the audience that naming a building for an individual is the highest honor the university can bestow.
"This honor signifies in the greatest way the character of the individual," Bennett said.
The Smith Operations Complex will be located at the Gate C entrance of the Brayton Fire Training Field and is expected to be completed in Spring 2007. Also joining Smith in the groundbreaking festivities were TEEX Director Robert L. Smith and Chief Les Bunte, Division Director of TEEX's Emergency Services Training Institute.
The future facility is part of a $23 million infrastructure upgrade initiative at the Brayton Fire Training Field. Other projects in development include an enhanced chemical complex training prop, a two-story structural burn building and a state-of-the-art water/wastewater treatment system.
Each year, TEEX trains more than 50,000 firefighters and emergency responders from all 50 states and 45 countries at the Brayton Fire Training Field. The site is recognized as the largest live-fueled firefighter training facility in the world, with 132 training stations and 22 fueled live-fire props.
TEEX has conducted fire and rescue training at the Brayton Fire Training Field's present location off Nuclear Science Road since 1960. Firefighter training in College Station began in 1929 when the State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association selected Texas A&M as the site for a permanent firefighter training program.
A member of the A&M System, TEEX offers hands-on, customized training, exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond. o