FRONT ROYAL – County officials are considering the construction of a Fire and Rescue training facility off ESA Lane on John Marshall Highway for an estimated $160,000.
Fire Marshall Gerry Maiatico recently explained to the county’s building review committee that the training facility would be composed of a series of 8-foot-tall and 40-foot-wide re-purposed sea containers that are used to transport materials on boats. Grants may cover up to half of the estimated construction costs.
He noted that using the sea containers is preferable to a “brick and mortar facility,” which would cost about $800,000. He added that this type of structure gives the department the ability to rearrange the facility’s floor plans.
“So we can have a one-floor layout for this training cycle, and in a couple of years we can change the floor plan so our staff doesn’t become complacent,” Maiatico said.
He said the structure also allows firefighters to practice going through windows or roofs and can simulate rope rescue scenarios. He said the facility could benefit police special operations teams by providing practice for breaching doors and entering structures through windows.
Maiatico said the proposed location for the facility is surrounded by “a substantial wooded area” that would serve as a sound and smoke buffer between any neighbors.
He said fire rescue scenarios could be simulated at the facility by burning hay, straw and wood palates in the structure. The department would be limited to how long and how often burns could be held.
Maiatico added that neighbors would be notified before any scheduled training, and the facility would not be used on windy days “because we want to be good neighbors.”
Supervisors Chairman Dan Murray said the facility’s proposed location is a “win-win” because any staffed firefighters overseeing training would be available to respond if an emergency occurred.
Maiatico added that Fire and Rescue crews usually have to travel about an hour to train, and a local facility would ultimately save about three hours per session.
County Administrator Doug Stanley said the project is in the early phases and a conditional use permit must be submitted to the Planning Commission. He added that the county must also put out a construction bid for the project, and it may ultimately reach the Board of Supervisors by summer.