Officials say new training facility could lower insurance costs

By Nick Blank nick@opcfla.com
Posted 10/27/21

CLAY COUNTY – Clay County Fire Rescue is hoping a firefighter-based training facility can bolster efficiency and lower fire insurance to county residents.

At a workshop last week, commissioners …

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Officials say new training facility could lower insurance costs

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – Clay County Fire Rescue is hoping a firefighter-based training facility can bolster efficiency and lower fire insurance to county residents.

At a workshop last week, commissioners reviewed the Capital Improvement Plan, which passed at Tuesday’s Board of County Commission meeting, that included a $1.5 million burn building slated for the current fiscal year.

A site near Camp Blanding is being targeted. County Manager Howard Wanamaker said an agreement with the U.S. Army was still in the works and described the process to obtain the property as a heavy lift. However, Wanamaker said there would be opportunities to expand and the burn building could be used by other agencies around the state.

The area already has access to water and gas lines, he said.

“It would most likely be a combined use,” Wanamaker said.

Assistant County Manager and Acting Fire Chief David Motes said the county currently acquires structures for controlled fire training activities. He said burn buildings, usually, towers, are tailored to specific scenarios with high temperatures and smoke.

“Burn buildings are state of the art and you can stop [the fire] if you have a bad situation,” Motes said.

Commissioner Wayne Bolla asked about the need for the facility. Motes said about 2% of departments in the country have an Insurance Services Office rating in Class 1, which is what CCFR aspires to. ISO ratings generally score how the preparedness fire departments have to handle fires in communities.

“[A burn building is] what stands between us and an ISO class 1. I know that’s aggressive,” Motes said. “That would make a significant reduction in people’s fire insurance in the county that are in areas with the hydrants.”

“That’s a good reason,” Bolla replied to Motes.

Commissioner James Renninger said officials must review the hazardous waste disposal costs to residents for out-of-county agencies to use facilities like a burn building. Motes said the region’s firefighters cooperate when it comes to training, recalling how CCFR employees used to be bussed to Jacksonville to receive instruction.

Motes said the agency works closely with neighboring county fire departments.

“The departments that touch us, Putnam and Bradford counties, there’s some value gained in being able to train there together,” Motes said. “We work together.”

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