Motorists driving past 3rd Avenue SW near City Center Drive often peer over to see Carmel firefighters tearing into a smashed up automobile.
No, it’s not a hot spot for traffic accidents. For years, the Carmel Fire Dept. has been conducting some of its training exercises out of a strip mall area owned by Pedcor.
But now CFD has a new place to conduct much of its training. In May 2016, it opened a 16,661-square-foot training and maintenance center at 4925 E. 106th St. near the city’s water treatment facility.
“This has so many uses,” said Tim Griffin, CFD public information officer. “It’s pretty impressive.”
CFD Chief David Haboush said the facility doesn’t replicate what would be created by a proposed countywide training center, which did not have its funding approved by the Hamilton County Council. That facility would be able to host training exercises such as live burns. The council did approve money for a burn tower, but that won’t be built at this time since area fire departments said it wasn’t enough money, Haboush said.
Carmel’s training and maintenance facility was sorely needed, Haboush said. Before its construction, there was no area to work on vehicles except one half of one station. Even classroom space was limited at times. The new facility gives a dedicated space for recruit classes to focus on learning, Haboush said.
In this building, CFD now houses the Maintenance and Training Division offices, along with the Fire and EMS training classroom. CFD recruit classes will be held there, and it’s the new home for the CFD Work Performance Evaluation WPE course, which is a form of firefighter training that includes physical fitness, among other activities.
The building has a backup power generator with fuel for several days. It’s built to be environmentally friendly with many repurposed items such as heating, air conditioning, overhead doors, work benches and training props. Outside, shipping containers are stacked to simulate entering a multi-story building.
“They designed it so it could always be added to,” Griffin said. “It’s not that it’s right here and we can use it easily. Some things we can’t do, and we have to go to other training centers, but it’s very helpful to have this close so our firefighters aren’t out of service too long.”
The building was dedicated Oct. 2 as the James K. Martin Maintenance Facility, named after a retired chief who was in charge of the maintenance division for 20-plus years while working as a CFD firefighter. Martin continues to play an active role in public service by maintaining apparatus at the Carmel Fire Buff’s Museum. The training side of the building does not have a dedicated name.
The new facility was funded through the Clay Township Building Corp., which also financed Fire Station 44 and the remodel of Fire Station 43. The township provided funding without increasing taxes, and building project payments are planned to be paid during the next 15 years.
The older fire training area along 3rd Avenue SW might not be around forever, Haboush said. He said the planned construction of the Midtown area could mean that Pedcor will likely demolish the property at some point, although nothing is planned in the immediate future because businesses are still leasing property in that area.
“Pedcor has been very generous,” he said. “But we know at some point in the future that wasn’t going to be there.”
In addition to the new training center, CFD also has two new fire engines, which cost approximately $52,000 each. They received the trucks in July, and they were placed into service shortly after that. Both are 2016 Pierce Enforcer Engines, and they are National Fire Protection Association compliant. They are housed at fire stations 45 and 46.
Haboush said CFD wanted to attach bells to the new engines – similar to those firefighters used to ring in the days before sirens – as a nod to history.
“We’re trying to build in some traditions,” he said. “At one point in time we didn’t have sirens. We had bells with strings, so we thought about seven years ago that adding bells would be nice, and maybe hundreds of years from now the bells will be on these trucks.”