After months of brainstorming and several meetings with the Insurance Services Office (ISO), and Calhoun leaders, the CFD has decided to take the funds from their allotment of the previous SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax). The department can use these funds for capital improvements on new fire department facilities or existing stations.
The CFD plans to use the money to provide an elite training facility in Calhoun.
“We’ve been trying to pursue this for several years through the budget process, and the way the budgets have evolved over the years, the monies just hasn’t been there,” said Calhoun Fire Department Chief Lenny Nesbitt.
After being reviewed by the ISO, which evaluates and rates fire departments on their firefighting capabilities and population of surrounding communities, the CFD received a Class 4 rating. This rating is based on the ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule. Fire departments are classified from 1 (being the best) to 10 (not meeting ISO standards).
By classifying communities’ ability to suppress fires, ISO helps the communities evaluate their public fire-protection services, and the program provides an objective, countrywide standard that helps fire departments in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment and training, according to the ISO.
“We are buying property and building a training ground with a burn building, training tower and props associated with that to potentially improve our rating from a 4 to a 3,” said Nesbitt. “If we just built the fire station it would only solidify us as a Class 4.”
In order to meet these standards and move up to a Class 3 rating, the CFD’s training facility must go along with ISO requirements.
“To get full credit it (the new facility) has to be at least four floors and have a roof; the ISO has determined some of the things that we need have as far as height goes. It’s a need we have had for a long time,” said Nesbitt. “We know we have to have at least a four-story tower; we know we have to have a burn area, which is separate, and a multi-floor we can do burns in a corner to simulate an actual residential fire.”
The CFD has already found the area for the training complex.
“We are in current negotiations with property around one of our fire stations,” said Nesbitt. He went on to say as soon as everything is finalized, construction will begin.
The structure should be around $500,000 - $700,000. That’s not including the price of the property, according to Nesbitt.
“There are certain tasks that have to be done every year to remain a certified firefighter; some of those tasks we can do here, but some we have to go to places that have live fire-burning facilities,” explained Nesbitt. “With the new facility we can do that here; we will be able to have rope training, confined space training, configure the insides so we can do searches, and classes that we usually have to go to South Georgia for, we can now do that here and host here, too.”
The amount of practice and opportunities with building the new facility are limitless.
“There are all different kinds of things the firefighters can do,” said Deputy Chief Terry Mills. “The possibilities are endless.”
Both Nesbitt and Mills said building a new training facility will enable the CFD firefighters to train for a multitude of different situations, all the while moving closer to a Class 3 rating.
“They are already trained for this, but this will get them where they do things second nature,” explained Nesbitt.
The training complex will be unique and of the highest quality.
“There’s not going to be very many training facilities this nice in Northwest Georgia,” said Mills. “It’s going to be, state-of-the-art, top-notch training facility, which there are very few municipalities in this area are going to have anything like what we are going to have.”