Training facility in works for city

$500,000 facility also will include classroom space

The Columbus Fire Department plans to build a training facility on the Columbus AirPark campus that will be used for simulation exercises and other functions.

The proposed facility, which would be located near Verhulst Drive, would replace an aging garage that currently exists on the site, Fire Chief Mike Compton said. Currently, the fire department trains in the basement of Fire Station No. 2 on Arnold Street.

“It’s not really an ideal situation,” he said.

The new building, which will include classroom space, is estimated to cost more than $500,000 and will be used as a regional training facility for other entities to also utilize, Compton said.

“We’re looking to expand and have more opportunities for firefighters,” Compton said. “We want to have something we can use year-round.”

Funding for construction will come out of the fire department’s capital fund.

Compton said he anticipates the building will be open by January 2019 with a groundbreaking expected to take place next month.

A site plan and design for the building are being developed. The Columbus Board of Works on Tuesday approved a contract not to exceed $15,000 with consulting firm HST Solutions LLC to oversee construction-related work of the facility.

Compton also said he hopes the training center can be self-sustaining through fees the city would charge to other departments that use it. Columbus City Council members on Tuesday gave their initial approval in a 6-1 vote to create a fund that would be used to accumulate any revenue generated from the training facility.

Councilman Frank Jerome said he was opposed to the ordinance, saying he wanted the project to look nice rather than having a pole barn-type of building.

“I want a nice facility and have it done well,” Jerome said.

The non-reverting fund would collect revenue based on classroom rentals and fees that are collected, allowing the fire department to defray the costs of operation and upkeep of the facility, according to the city.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com