Breaking Ground for a New Training Facility – Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District

Breaking Ground for a New Training Facility

For the past 15 years, there has been a shared dream to build and operate a multi-functional training facility on the Carbondale Fire Department property. Due to the hard work of Fire Chief Rob Goodwin and Deputy Chief/Training Coordinator Frank Nadell, this dream will become a reality this fall.

About the Training Facility

The training facility that is set to be completed in the fall of 2021 is a multi-functional training facility and will be used to train not only the members of the Carbondale Fire Department but state, regional, and surrounding fire districts. The 1.2 million dollar building will be different than most fire training facilities as it will also function for EMS training. 70% of what the Carbondale Fire District provides to our community is emergency medical services (EMS) and they wanted the new training building to reflect that. The structure will represent the variety of structures in the fire district; single-family housing, multi-family housing, commercial/industrial, and retail/office properties.

The facility will be able to recreate emergency scenarios and allow rescue crews to go through live fire training so they feel confident and capable during a real emergency. The building will have gas-fired props, rope rescue training, driver apparatus training, ladder truck training, a vehicle fire prop, and a propane tank live fire prop. The simulations that this facility will be able to produce will help crews learn how to work together and what to do in a variety of situations. The future of fire training will be in Carbondale, CO.

[Elevation renderings of the new facility]

The fire department has been working with a local firm, A4 Architects, to design this building and bring it to life. The funds for this training facility came from the bond that was approved in 2018 and has been in their master plan. They truly could not be building this facility without the support and trust of the community.

The Importance of the Facility

This facility is going to be a tremendous asset and game-changer for the Carbondale Fire District. There is nothing really like this in Colorado as most facilities focus solely on fire training. This facility will be open for regional, state, and local fire departments and academies to come and train and work together to learn what to do in different situations. The Division of Fire Prevention and Control, which is the certification body for the state, will also be able to hold trainings here. The hope is that the more that the rescue teams (especially our neighboring departments) can work together, the more comfortable and confident they will be when called to work together on larger incidents such as wildfires and car accidents.

Training is everything. When crews are on the scene and it’s scary, intimidating, there are flames and smoke everywhere or you’re trying to rescue someone out of a precarious space, the muscle memory from training is what takes over. The men and women risking their lives to help others will be able to fall back on what they know and what they’ve practiced over and over again and that will ultimately help them to operate safely and efficiently and provide better care to the victims.

The simulated scenarios that they will be able to go through include firefighter through the floor rescue, compromising positions and situations, theatrical smoke too thick to see through to ensure you can rely on your team and instincts to work through the rescue. Every firefighter has to have 20 hours per month of company training and this facility will help to provide a better opportunity to do that and at a higher training level.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) evaluates fire departments, dispatching centers, and their communities (access to water) in order to determine what the fire insurance rate is for homeowners. The rating scale is from 1-10 (1 being the best) and Carbondale Fire Department has gotten their number down from a 7 to a 3 over the past two decades, which is pretty remarkable for the rural area and has saved homeowners in the district millions of dollars. The department will get credit just for having the building on their grounds which will help to lower the score and ultimately the homeowners’ insurance rates as well.

The Future of the Facility

A big part of this project was to ensure that this facility would be able to serve the Roaring Fork Valley for years (and years) to come. The hope for bringing this infrastructure to Carbondale is to partner with CMC to bring a fire science degree to the RFV and be able to have students train here. The department also hopes to partner with the Roaring Fork High School to start a junior firefighter program, that would allow students to explore a different trade and career path and give them an opportunity to work closely with the fire department and with CMC.

Another positive to this building is the economic boost that it would bring to the town of Carbondale. With more events and multi-day programs bringing firefighters and first responders from around the state that would bring in more business to the local community, especially lodging and restaurants.

Being a first responder is similar to being an athlete, they have to train tirelessly so that when they are called in for emergency situations they can perform at their best and ensure the best care possible. This training facility will be able to provide an invaluable experience for first responders around the state and we are so proud to have this in our town. The fire department is hoping to have the training facility built and ready for training by the end of October 2021 and they already have plans to start a fire academy in the fall. If you have any questions, as always, feel free to reach out to your friends at the Carbondale Fire District.