Firefighter: Joint training at new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center will save lives

While much of the controversy over the new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center or "Cop City" has involved the city's police department, firefighters are saying they see the center as a game-changer in helping them save lives.

Nate Bailey is a firefighter with the Atlanta Fire Department and says joint-training exercises will be key to their success.

In a briefing to Atlanta City Council on Wednesday, Bailey explained that joint exercises between fire and police can only happen at a location with a big footprint.

The complex, which is being built in DeKalb County, will include a simulator with a house, a nightclub, a restaurant and an office tower.

Life-saving scenarios can be conducted. Sometimes both agencies are required to work together, as citizens saw recently in the Midtown shooter incident.

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Rendering of proposed Atlanta Police Training Center (Atlanta Police Department )

Bailey also spoke about current limitations fire instructors are working under.

"We have more than two hundred vacancies now because we do not have enough space to teach multiple classes at the same time," Bailey said.

With short firefighter personnel, the city department has to rely on overtime to man the trucks.

"And that overtime bill runs $12 million dollars a year," Bailey added. 

Opponents of the training center, which is being built through funds from the Atlanta Police Foundation, continue to voice concerns over the impact to the environment as well as what they perceive as the militarization of the police department.