Training facility dedicated at emergency center Site will teach fire, rescue personnel

September 16, 1992|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff Writer

WESTMINSTER -- The crowd was small, but the pride was enormous as the Carroll County Training Grounds Management Committee dedicated its new fire and rescue training facilities Sunday afternoon at the Emergency Operations Center.

Oscar Baker, part-time county Emergency Services coordinator, described the 13-year process the firefighters went through with the county to establish the training center that is used by surrounding jurisdictions as well as Carroll.

The EOC site at 1345 Washington Road, when chosen by the management committee in 1979, was a county maintenance facility. After the county vacated the premises in the early 1980s, the firefighters took over, clearing the property for buildings an architect had designed for fire and rescue training.

While the county supported the center, work and financing were done largely by the management committee, consisting of some county fire chiefs, firemen's and ambulance associations. "There are three other ongoing regional training centers and a couple more planned around the state, but they took taxpayers' dollars and aren't near as nice as this," Mr. Baker said.

Russell Strickland, acting director for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute noted that "there's literally something going on here every day -- it's phenomenal the amount of use it gets."

And the facility isn't finished yet. Several more projects remain, including a storm-water management pond that also will be used for training, a hazardous materials training area and a rehabilitation or rebuilding of the structural burn building.

Additionally, more modular classrooms and parking will be installed and a second story put on the existing EOC building. The barn also will be connected to a small building used for emergency services medical training, Mr. Strickland said.

Leon Fleming, chairman of the management committee, then took visitors on a tour of the barn, which has been renovated into classrooms and simulation training areas.

More pride in the facility showed when Mr. Fleming pointed out that the sprinkler system was largely donated by local fire-protection companies at a savings to the county of $16,000 to $20,000.

Other highlights include a sprinkler lab, an air-cascade system for refilling air tanks, a maze for training firefighters for building fires, and props for confined rescues such as in storm drains.

Mr. Fleming said much help with the facility over the years came from Carroll County Career and Technology Center students who installed plumbing and electrical work and built the maze.

Besides the professional training that takes place at the Carroll County facility, Career and Technology students interested in the fire service now can take a yearlong training program through the public schools.

"It's their first off-campus class and just started this year," Mr. Fleming said. "The students come here for fire essentials . . . and emergency medical-training classes."

The facility also is used by private industry, the county, MFRI and Civil Air Patrol for training and meetings, he said.

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