Landmark drill tower in Greensboro being torn down

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- More than 60 years after it was built, the drill tower on North Church Street in Greensboro is being torn down.

The observation tower is also being demolished.

The demolition process is scheduled to begin as early as next week to make room for the department’s new training model.

“We'll be putting a new tower up and we’re putting a new burn building up because our facilities have gotten so aged that we don't have the ability to go in and do the training inside of them that we used to,” Greensboro Fire Chief Bobby Nugent said.

The drill tower was built in 1956.

To better train for fighting a fire in a high rise building and doing rescues, the Greensboro Fire Department is moving to a new system that uses Conex boxes.

Nugent says this will be the most significant prop replacement the department has seen in 40 years.

Although it’s needed, considering that all the past and present firefighters trained on the site, it’s difficult to see it go.

Jesse Walker, a retired fire engineer who came back to the department to help with fitness assessments, started his career in 1975.

“It is very sentimental, so I'm going to try to before they tear it down get me a brick or a light or something, a part of this so I can keep as a keepsake,” Walker said.

Firefighter recruit Matthew Cockerham is in the last group to go through the current training and considers it an honor.

“Everyone who's out on line has been up and down that tower many times. It's something you have to earn to go through,” he said.

The project is expected to be finished around February or March 2020.

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