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FTCC fire and emergency training complex named for Keen

Retiring college President J. Larry Keen worked to make the complex a reality


Fayetteville Technical Community College’s new fire and emergency training complex will be named for college President J. Larry Keen.

Keen, who is retiring Jan. 1, learned Wednesday night that the 30-acre complex will be called the Dr. J. Larry Keen Regional Fire and Emergency Training Complex, FTCC announced Friday.

The college’s board of trustees made the decision in closed session last month.

The name was unveiled Wednesday night at a gala honoring Keen. Cumberland County Commissioners Glenn Adams and Jimmy Keefe announced the name.

County officials and the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association have been key partners with Keen and FTCC in the development of the $47 million project, the college said.

The county’s legislative delegation, including N.C. Sens. Kirk deViere and Ben Clark and N.C. Reps. Marvin Lucas, Billy Richardson, John Szoka and Diane Wheatley, also played an important role, the college said. 

The first phase of the state-of-the-art complex opened in September. It includes a 24,000-square-foot training center, with classrooms, simulation labs, locker rooms, apparatus bays and offices; a technical rescue facility with a four-story training tower; an area for trench collapse training and other confined space training; and a memorial plaza.  

Work is underway on the rest of the complex, including the only indoor Swift Water Rescue Training facility on the East Coast; two additional burn buildings; and an aircraft burn simulator. The complex is at 775 Tom Starling Road in Fayetteville.

Cumberland County donated the site for the complex. Major funding sources include FTCC, the county and the state. 

Wednesday night’s gala was hosted by the FTCC Foundation.

At the gala, Freddy L. Johnson Sr., chief of Stoney Point Fire Department and president of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association, thanked Keen for his leadership, support and dedication to the county’s fire and rescue services. Johnson presented Keen with a fire chief’s helmet, saying Keen is now an honorary fire chief with the association. 

Keen was lauded by several other speakers, including FTCC Foundation board Chairman Brad Hurley, FTCC board of trustees Chairman David Williford, Fayetteville State University Chancellor Darrell Allison, Methodist University President Dr. Stanley Wearden, and Dr. Greg Winters, a longtime colleague and friend of Keen’s from Oklahoma.

Before moving to North Carolina in 2002 to work for the N.C. Community College System office, Keen spent three decades in Oklahoma, getting his education, then working in various educational and workforce training and development roles. He was named president of FTCC in 2007.

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