A new training facility and offices officially opened Thursday at a fire suppression camp from which the Kern County Fire Department first started operating during the summer.
Called Camp Eight, the former school facility is now occupied by the fire department's Wildland Air and Operations Division, according to a department news release.
In the beginning of 2012, the fire department bought the space for $500,000 using state funds. The 13-acre area on Eumatilla Street used to be Monroe High School, but had been vacant for a year before the fire department bought it.
Crews first started working out of the camp July 1. Three weeks later, those crews were the first responders to the Sand Fire.
Throughout the summer, Tehachapi Valley Fire Crew 81 worked to convert the space to fit the needs of firefighters, according to the news release. They created two training rooms, a main reception and office area, a physical fitness room, a kitchen, a break room and sleeping accommodations for more than 50 people.
The crew also cleared the grounds and planted drought-tolerant plants for landscaping, according to the news release.
The fire department hopes the camp will come in handy for several uses. These include, according to the news release, seasonal engine company, east Kern training center, fleet maintenance satellite facility, helicopter landing pad, large incident command post, staging facility for CAL FIRE strike teams, emergency or alternate fire department headquarters, temporary evacuation center, large animal evacuation center and community meeting center.