Firefighter training facility moving up the ladder.

November 12, 2020

A drawing of the future Oceana County firefighter training facility.

Firefighter training facility moving up the ladder.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

FERRY TOWNSHIP — A firefighter training facility for Oceana County fire departments and those from surrounding areas is getting closer to becoming reality.

A training center made from five stacked 40-foot-long heavy steel shipping containers is in the works, said Grant Township Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Dan Yost, who chairs the Oceana County Firefighters Training Committee.

The training center will be located on land leased from the county located behind the Oceana County DNR Field Office on M 20. A 10-year lease agreement with the county was recently finalized, and the project received a $4,000 grant from the Great Lakes Energy People Fund toward the purchase of the containers, which are approximately $2,400 each, said Yost.

“It’s a five-year plan, and we have about three years into it,” he said. “A couple years ago, we began tossing around ideas for some kind training facility.”

The firefighters have put in many volunteer hours into making the facility a reality, Yost said.

Ferry Township Fire Department Cpt. Chris Ernst, who is the secretary/treasurer for the training committee, developed the facility’s design.

Firefighters have donated their skills and talents into creating the building, and local businesses are also chipping in with materials. “So far, it’s been all volunteer work.”

“We’re blessed that a lot of them do that type of work,” said the Yost. Several of the firefighters work in excavating, construction and welding fields, so their professional experience pays off. The firefighters will build the walls and roofing sections themselves, along with performing the cement work for the pillars.

Thanks to all of the volunteer efforts, the entire project is expected to cost $20,000.

The facility will provide training for “Class A type fires” said Yost and offer opportunities for more ladder work and rescue training.

The firefighters are hoping to purchase two of the storage containers by next spring.

Other fire departments across the state are developing similar training facilities, and the training committee decided to get on board. “We’ve seen a lot of other departments that have done this.”

“There are 100 firefighters in Oceana County, and they all need training.”

If anyone would like to donate to the project, they can email Yost at

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