December 19, 2009 in City

Fairchild replacing fitness facility

Old building collapsed in last year’s heavy snow
By The Spokesman-Review
Photo courtesy  of Bill Toye photo

Fairchild Air Force Base will get funds to replace this building, which collapsed in last year’s snow. The building housed the base pool. Photo courtesy  of Bill Toye
(Full-size photo)

Fairchild Air Force Base will get an extra $28 million next year from the federal budget to build a new fitness and water training facility for the Survival School.

The money, which was pulled from savings in the Defense Department’s fiscal 2009 budget, will be used to replace a converted World War II-era warehouse that was damaged last December when heavy snows collapsed part of its roof.

The building housed the base pool, which was used by the Air Force Survival School for specialized water training. Air crews training at the school, which is a tenant on the West Plains base, learn how to get out of a submerged aircraft and practice water rescues.

The building also has equipment for fitness training, and individual and team sports.

In last year’s snowstorms, the roof collapsed and some of the wooden trusses of the 66-year-old building were damaged. Some water survival training was conducted at Eastern Washington University’s pool, said Lt. Col. Billy Barnes, deputy commander of the 336th Training Group. But the “dunking” exercises couldn’t be duplicated there because the equipment is too specialized.

The Pentagon looked for a way to pay for a new facility, and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers worked with leaders of the House Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee to “reprogram” money that was originally set aside for other military projects in fiscal 2009. It found the money in savings to a remodel of the U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

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