New Fire Training Building To Be Completed Next Week In Norwich
Published: June 9th, 2023
By: Lilli Iannella

New fire training building to be completed next week in Norwich Members of the 827 Engineering Company out of Horseheads spend all day working on the new burn building, which is set to be finished on June 17. (Photo by Lilli Iannella)

NORWICH – After 23 years without a building for firefighters to train in, members of the United States Army Corps of Engineers have been constructing a new burn building in Norwich.

The structure is set to be finished on June 17, said 1st Lt. Justin Davis, who is one of the leaders of the project. It will have three floors and framing made out of steel, he said.

Since 1967, firefighters have trained on the grounds at the Chenango County Fire Training Center, which is located just off of Prentice Street, said Matthew Beckwith, the county’s fire coordinator. For almost 25 years, the county had used another building on the property until it was unsafe for further fire training in 2000, he said.

Story Continues Below Adverts

Now, with the construction of the new burn building, Beckwith said, firefighters from Chenango County and surrounding counties have the opportunity to enhance their firefighting abilities.

“This is a big deal for us – huge deal – because of the dedication of the county to be able to put this burn building in place,” Beckwith said.

The first floor will contain a door that firefighters can use to learn different entry techniques, said Vern A. Palmiter, the supervisor of training for the county’s emergency services department. He said the second floor will allow firefighters to practice escaping a building for self-rescue or emergency escape, and the third floor will have moveable walls for search and rescue training.

Palmiter said the building will have the ability to withstand live fire on all three floors, and the structure is expected to last at least 25 years.

After the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, in 2021, Chenango County received American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, which were provided by the federal government to help state and local economies, Beckwith said. He said the county allocated a $600,000 budget toward the burn building.

Through an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program, which encompasses training opportunities for military personnel, Davis said the project aligned with the capabilities and mission of his unit. Beckwith said if the military didn’t get involved with the project and if they hired a contractor, total costs for the building – including labor – would have reached nearly a million dollars.

The unit, identified as the 827 Engineering Company out of Horseheads, NY, designated 30 soldiers into working crews, Davis said, and they prepare for work starting between 5 and 6 a.m., with some crews sometimes working until just before midnight.

Story Continues Below Adverts

Davis said the project allows the soldiers to develop their engineering and construction skills through hands-on training. He said they can apply this experience to real-world scenarios, like creating and improving structures such as barracks or military bases.

“When we do get into an actual situation, where they're going to have to apply these skills, they're going to be tested on tighter timeframes,” he said. “They're going to have these skill sets already familiar with them, and they can apply them quicker.”