Officials in the Town of Farmington Fire Department planned for a decade to bring a live fire training facility to town to give firefighters the opportunity to more thoroughly prepare them. The Farmington Town Council and Town Plan and Zoning Commission gave their approval and all that was left was for the fire department to raise the funds — about $1.2 million.
And the fire department vowed it would do it, exploring donations, in-kind services and participating from surrounding towns Avon, Burlington and Plainville. The three other towns expressed interest in the process but have not yet made a financial commitment.
Officials at the say it's something they'd like to do and are asking the Avon Town Council for $350,000 in the form of a capital improvement project.
“We’re asking the Town Council to take serious consideration into our jumping on board with Farmington for the training facility,” Ken Sedlak, president of the volunteer fire department’s Board of Directors, said earlier this week. “[Farmington's] looking to break ground next spring.”
Sedlak and Avon Volunteer Fire Chief Michael Trick asked Avon Town Council members for their support at a meeting at the beginning of September. Sedlak said the opportunity would give Avon firefighters access to a “close-to-home training facility.” If funding were approved, the money would come out of the 2013-14 budget.
“That would be a great investment not only in town, but also for the fire department,” Sedlak said.
Mary-Ellen Harper, Farmington director of fire and rescue services, said that Farmington has approached Avon, Burlington and Plainville about co-funding the $1.2 million project. The cost would be divided evenly, she said, and Farmington is looking for a commitment from the three towns by October.
“This is about 10 years in the making and it’s finally getting to point that we either have to make a commitment to Farmington or we won’t be part of the deal,” Sedlak said.
The Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department has also expressed interest about co-ownership. Farmington is only planning on having four towns co-sponsor the facility. However, if Avon, Burlington or Plainville decides not to be a part of it, Harper said that Canton could be a candidate to take the fourth slot.
Avon volunteer firefighters train every week, doing drills such as “ladder throwing” and spraying fire hoses, Sedlak said. But they also travel as far as Wolcott, Torrington or Windsor Locks once a year to do mandatory training that includes extinguishing fires and search and rescue drills. Partial ownership in the regional facility would keep equipment and training closer to home.
“There are things we can’t really do at our facilities in town because of our risk of damaging them,” Sedlak said. “The facility in Farmington would be allowed up to 13 burn days a year.”
Co-owning the Farmington facility would allow the fire department to practice responding to simulated fires more often, he said. Avon's amount of allotted “burn days” would depend on its “percentage of ownership.”
“The more you train, the more proficient you are at doing tasks,” Sedlak said, noting that it is also a benefit to the “safety of firefighter to do more training.”
Police could likely use the facility as well for SWAT training, Sedlak said.
If the town does not opt to consider the proposal as a capital project, the Avon department will look into grant opportunities and potential in-kind service options, Sedlak said.
The 1,100 square foot building will be constructed at 39 Round Hill Road, near the Farmington Police firing range.