Firefighters seek funds for training facility

GREENFIELD — Practice makes perfect, and with enough help from the public, the Greenfield Fire Territory will finally have the facility and means to keep up with a training schedule like never before.

In the past year, the department built a training facility behind its Fire Station 22, located on New Road in Greenfield, using donated materials. Now, its leaders are looking for monetary donations to expand and maintain the structure, which allows them to practice fighting fires of all types year-round, Chief James Roberts said.

The training facility is made out of nine metal shipping containers, similar to those carried by cargo trains. The containers were given to the department by a private donor, Roberts said, and, during the past year, the department has stacked and maneuvered those cargo bins into a makeshift structure, complete with rooms, stairs and rooftops.

Now the firefighters can light ablaze the facility in their backyard, allowing them to practice on their own schedule as frequently as they’d like, Roberts said. They hope to construct a second structure, which will double the size of the training tower and help turn the department into a regional training hub, he said.

The department has used about $60,000 generated from grants and other donations to get the training facility to its current state, said Chris Faust, the department’s training division chief. It’ll need at least that amount to build a second structure, he said.

Before the department built its own facility, its firefighters were limited to classroom-based training or forced to leave the county to visit other training sites, Faust said.

In the short time the Greenfield training facility has been usable, the city’s firefighters have burnt and rebuilt the structure several times, and they used it to train a class of local recruits for five weeks this fall, Faust said.

While the metal exterior withstands the blaze, the wooden staircases, walls and doors inside have to be replaced after every practice fire, amounting to several hundred dollars in costs generated by each practice, Faust said. The donations the department is currently seeking will be used to cover those costs and will hopefully create a fund to use in the future, he said.

Greenfield isn’t the only department that will benefit from having the training facility up and running. Roberts has said he hopes to open the facility to departments in the area, including the other fire departments in Hancock County.

Buck Creek Fire Chief David Sutherlin said he’s excited for that day. His department can conduct practice fires only if a local family donates an old home or building to burn, and that doesn’t happen very often, he said.

Having access to a training center in Greenfield would give his department a chance to practice more often and alongside the men and women from a neighboring department.

For more information on how to donate to the department, call 317-477-4430 or email jroberts@greenfieldin.org.

How to help

The Greenfield Fire Territory is seeking $60,000 in donations to double the size of its training facility.

For more information on how to donate to the department, call 317-477-4430 or email jroberts@greenfieldin.org.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.