SHCTC looks to open fire training facility

By Wayne Gates – 

A new firefighter training facility could be coming to Mt. Orab in a year or so.
The village is working with Southern Hills Career and Technical Center to create what would become a regional “live burn” facility.
“We do a ton of fire and EMT style training,” said Southern Hills Superintendent Kevin Kratzer.
“To complete the firefighter two course requires two live burns and two complete the firefighter  two course, I believe it’s four different burns.  Right now, every time we have to go somewhere and rent the training facility for each of those burns.  If we had one of our own, those costs would go away and we could do it right here in our neighborhood.  That’s a benefit to both the school and the students.”
Current firefighters are also required to attend live burn training to keep their certifications.  Kratzer said that travel time is one of the primary struggles for local departments.
“The nearest one is in Loveland.  There are also towers in Colerain and at Butler Tech up in Warren County,” he said.
Kratzer said that a new facility could cost up to half a million dollars. He said that SHCTC was currently doing a feasibility study to document the local need for the training.
“That study will then become a big part of any grants that we are going to pursue throughout the winter and spring. We hope to secure some state and federal funding to build the project,” Kratzer said.
“If we can locate a training facility here, you are looking at a five or six county region that would look to us as their primary training facility.  Every department is required to have this training.”
Mt. Orab Mayor Bruce Lunsford said that the village would clearly benefit from such a facility as well.
“The number of training hours required for firefighters everywhere is increasing.  People are having to travel great distances to comply with that, and we would like to be able to provide that locally.”
Lunsford said that the village was looking to find property to donate to the project.
“The property won’t be close to housing, but it has to be accessible to water mains and things like that.  The village has two or three pieces of property that I think would work.  We just have to see what fits,” Lunsford said.
Mt. Orab Fire Chief Lisa Reeves said that her firefighters and others would benefit greatly from local training.
“It’s going to let them get live fire experience closer to home.  That’s very important to the competency of their career,” she said.
Reeves added that staying home for training also enhances public safety.
“You can’t take your entire department out of the jurisdiction for training at once, so you have to set up multiple training times. You are also taking your equipment out of service for longer period of time when you are traveling and working on training scenarios,” she said.
Reeves also said that the building could be used by more than just firefighters.
“It can incorporate law enforcement, EMS and others, so it could be used as a public safety training facility, not just a firefighter training facility.”
There is also a financial benefit to the general public if a fire training facility is built locally.
“All of the departments that use it would be able to count that training toward their ISO (Insurance Service Organization) rating, which lowers fire insurance premiums for all of the taxpayers,” Reeves said.
Kratzer stressed that the project was still in the discussion and fact-finding stages, and that no concrete plans were currently being made.