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Work set to begin on burn building at fire training center

The approval of the first bid will help get construction under way at the Franklin County (Pa.) Public Safety Training Center.

The approval of the first bid will help get construction under way at the Franklin County (Pa.) Public Safety Training Center.

January 07, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - It's been six years in the making, but construction on a "burn building" for the Franklin County Public Safety Training Center could begin as early as next week.

The Franklin County Commissioners awarded the contract to low-bidder Building Systems Inc., of Hagerstown, last week.

"We're pleased," said Jim Picking of the Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association. He said construction could begin next week and the building is expected to be completed by June.

A layer of shale was spread over the site recently to help solve drainage problems so construction could proceed, he said.

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The project, including a sidewalk around the building, will cost $502,175, said John Hart, county administrator.

"This is a significant stepping stone. It will really get things going and will put Franklin County on the map," Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

In the two-story burn building, three wooden pallets and a bale of straw will burn at 1,800 degrees. Crews will enter the building, extinguish the fire, practice ventilating the structure, use the ladder and, if necessary, rescue "Andy," a 200-pound lifelike dummy.

Plans also call for a 50- to 60-foot tower for simulating high-level rescue operations, classrooms, a site to practice vehicle rescues, a pump testing and certification site and a storage garage.

Each piece will be built separately.

The $1.2 million training center will be used by firefighters, rescue workers, emergency services personnel, law enforcement and in some cases the private sector for safety training purposes.

Picking said many businesses in the community have been willing to help out in providing services.

"Everywhere I've gone to price materials, people have been willing to work in a contribution," Picking said. "This will really come together all at once."

The seed money for the project came from the late Tony Gargaro, who in 1997 willed $100,000 to the Fire Chiefs Association for the purpose.

The Franklin County Commissioners also issued a challenge to other municipalities, pledging $1 for each resident if the township or borough would do the same.

Each of the 22 municipalities responded with a total of $130,000, bringing the total to $260,000 with the county match.

In December 2001, state Sen. Terry Punt announced he had secured the $600,000 needed to move the project forward.

The Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association has raised additional money and has fund-raising plans for the balance.

The facility will be on five acres on the Franklin County Career and Technology Center's Loop Road campus in Guilford Township donated by the county schools.

Picking said the ability to train locally will help with recruiting and retaining volunteers.

Currently, local firefighters have to drive to a certification center in Harrisburg, Pa., which means wear and tear on equipment, apparatus that's out of service and firefighters who have to plan on being out of the county for a day.

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