The commissioners unanimously approved awarding a construction contract to Cablik Enterprises LLC to build the Fire/ES Training Center at a total cost of $3.2 million. A $40,000 design/engineering change order to Pond & Company of Norcross was also approved.
County officials hope the facility will lower the county’s Insurance Service Office, or ISO, rating from a class 5/9 to a class 4. The ISO system is used to rate how well fire departments serve their area and to calculate homeowners’ insurance costs.
Chief Tim Prather of the Cherokee Fire and Emergency Services said the new facility — which has been in the works for roughly five years — is a milestone for the county and department.
“Right now when we conduct training there are several locations in the county that we go for training, so it pulls it to one area as far as practical, day-to-day operations of training,” Prather said. “In addition, it’s a big credit for our ISO.”
Officials hope to complete construction of the new facility by the fall of 2013.
It will be located on the site of the old Pike Nursery property on Highway 5 near Holly Springs. Included within the complex will be an administrative building with classrooms, a multi-floor training tower, an outdoor classroom, a driving course, rescue pad and perhaps most importantly a burn building.
“The burn tower is a big thing as far as fire training,” said Prather.
County Manager Jerry Cooper said he and others feels confident that with the new facility, and other improvements in the works, the county will achieve its goal of obtaining a class 4 in the near future.
“The ultimate goal is to provide even more training to our firefighters, EMTs and paramedics, with the ultimate goal to reduce our ISO rating saving taxpayers money long-term,” he told commissioners. He also said he was positive the project would come in under budget.
Commissioner Karen Bosch said the facility is “a long time coming and I think it will be a big benefit to our citizens as well as our firefighters.”
The department has about 250 firefighters who will be utilizing the facility, according to Assistant Chief Eddie Robinson, who is in charge of training.
“We train continuously; everyday there’s some sort of training taking place inside the fire department,” he said.
“This facility will help us with our ISO and it’ll also give us the opportunity to continue our education so that we have the best firefighters around.”