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Carbon scaling back fire center

Published April 19. 2019 12:06PM

A proposed multipurpose fire training facility is getting scaled back a bit, a Carbon County commissioner said.

On Thursday, Commissioners’ Chairman Wayne Nothstein said that the county is cutting back on the plans, which was to include a fire training tower and new emergency operations center with large classrooms and a vehicle garage.

The new operations center is “being scrubbed,” he said, adding that the tower that will be constructed will still provide essential training for emergency services without having to travel out of the county.

“Initially in the overall plan, we were looking at another building with a classroom type setting, vehicle garage and things of that nature,” Nothstein said. “Things got really bad in the court system (regarding space for court personnel) and we certainly need that space, but as much as I hated to do it, we are going to have to cut it out and set our priorities on that.”

Nothstein said that the burn tower, which is estimated to cost approximately $3.5 million, will still be constructed for area fire and police departments to use for live training scenarios.

It will include three burn rooms, space for active shooter trainings, rope courses, stairwell trainings and more, as well as the option to expand to other scenarios like vehicle fires and hazmat emergencies, he said.

“There are a lot of different things and different scenarios that we cannot do in our towns,” Nothstein said.

The announcement came after commissioner candidate Chris Lukasevich questioned Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard on the training center resolving the volunteer shortage in Carbon County.

Nothstein said that he is the chair of that emergency services committee and addressed the issue.

Lukasevich said the training facility was being reactive instead of proactive because the problem had begun as far back as the 1970s.

Nothstein refuted that claim because a committee to address these growing problems with volunteering and training has been in the works since 2008.

Carbon County also began looking at a fire training center for volunteer training purposes since 2015 after the county’s burn tower was torn down because of deterioration.

Once completed, the fire training facility project will be located next to the Emergency Management Agency on the Broad Mountain in Nesquehoning and will include live fire training sites and a drill tower for firefighters, police, county departments and EMS.

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