Training site for Groton fire departments proposed

Groton — Local fire departments are planning a fire training site in an area behind the Town Hall Annex on Groton Long Point Road that they said would provide a centralized location for them to train together.

"It's going to give a great benefit to all area fire departments to be able to train and work together," said Anthony Manfredi Jr., deputy fire chief with the Mystic Fire Department and training officer with the Groton Fire Officers Association.

The proposal from the Groton Fire Officers Association, which each fire department in town belongs to, is slated to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday at its 7 p.m. meeting at the Town Hall Annex community room 2.

If approved by the commission, the next step would be to bring a Memorandum of Understanding before the Town Council, Town Manager John Burt said.

Burt said the fire departments had approached the town several years ago to identify a town-owned site. Staff and fire departments concluded the site — between the Annex building and the Public Works building, but set back farther from the road — was the most logistically appropriate site to use.

"This has been a long time need for our local fire departments," Burt said. "This site would help keep our firefighters trained and ready to handle any situation."

Manfredi, who is coordinating the initiative for the fire departments, said the activities will be confined to a fenced-in area. The plan is to install a fire training trailer and rope rescue trailer on the site, along with practice cars for vehicle extrication and stabilization, and roof simulators so firefighters can practice ventilation on low-to-the-ground props. Firefighters also would use an existing shed to practice firefighting safety and bailing out through a window.

The firefighters would wear full protective gear and would have safety procedures within the training room, the application to the PZC stated.

"There is zero risk or hazard to anyone that is not within the very immediate area," the application stated.

"The trainings will vary from live fire training within an engineered training prop, vehicle extrication utilizing donated vehicles that have had their fluids and battery removed, basic firefighting drills such as laddering, (self-contained breathing apparatus) maze, hand tools, forcible entry, safety and survival, firefighter search assist teams, rescue systems and confined space rescue," the application states, adding that at least 80 percent of the trainings won't create water drainage or waste. No hazardous materials will be stored on site, it states, and firefighters would manage any materials used that are considered hazardous by following the manufacturer's directions and state regulations.

The application states that the trainings will take place between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., at the latest, and will "be done in way to not inconvenience neighbors, anyone visiting, doing business or working at the Town Hall Annex." Most training will be held at 5 p.m. or later, and any training involving live burn activities, including simulated smoke, will be done when the Town Hall Annex is closed.

The proposed site mainly would serve the fire departments in Groton, though outside mutual aid partners could use it too, Manfredi said.

He pointed out that the site not only would assist members of the fire departments in completing annual training requirements and as a site for coordinated training, but also could serve other town departments. For example, an electrical safety course on the site could be opened up to all town departments.

Poquonnock Bridge Fire Chief Joseph Winski said the proposed facility is centrally located within town so all area departments could use it for training without having to travel long distances and store all their training props in one centralized location.

"In essence, it consolidates our training together, so we’re all on the same page," he said.

Winski noted that coordinating the training is important because the fire departments work together.

"None of us are standalone organizations," he said. "We all depend on each other."

The project includes relocating a material storage area used by Public Works and installing two watertight holding tanks with drains to collect runoff, the application states.

The commission is expected to make a decision on the site plan on Tuesday unless the applicant requests a time extension, said Assistant Planning Director Deb Jones. The commission may place restrictions on certain activities.

 k.drelich@theday.com

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