January 26, 2022

Fire facility work starts

Training building being constructed behind Cortlandville fire station

Images provided by the Cortlandville Fire Department

Site work began last week on the planned live fire training facility. The project is expected to be completed in November.

Construction crews will begin building the foundation for an $815,000 regional live fire training facility in Cortlandville by mid-May.

Last week, crews were clearing land and breaking ground for the facility that will sit behind the Cortlandville Fire Training Facility on Route 13.

“We’re excited,” said Kevin Whitney, chairman of the Cortlandville Fire District. “This started a long time ago.”

The 1,800-square-foot building would feature two thermal-lined burn rooms and would feature movable walls to configure different training spaces, Whitney said. That would allow firefighters to practice search techniques, work with hose lines in hallways and stairwells. A poured-concrete tower would allow firefighters to train in rappelling, positioning ladders and other equipment. Construction for the building itself was estimated at around $700,000. The other $115,000 went toward site preparation.

Construction is expected to end Nov. 15. “However, there’s always hurdles,” Whitney said.

Funding Sources

Funding for the building comes from several sources:
• $300,000 from the state Dormitory Authority secured by state Sen. James Seward (R-Milford).
• $200,000 from the state Dormitory Authority secured by Assembly Member Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca).
• $315,000 for which the Cortlandville Fire Department bonded.

The department plans to look into donation and fundraising streams to repay the bond, said Kevin Whitney the chairman of the Cortlandville Fire District.

The plan for a live fire training facility came after the training tower in Ithaca was condemned last year. After the Ithaca facility was condemned the department had to travel an hour and a half away past Wampsville, Madison County, for training, Whitney said.

Town Supervisor Dick Tupper had said there is a facility in Syracuse, but no others nearby.

The Homer facility is no longer used for live fire training, said Homer Fire Chief Mahlon Irish. The three-story tower was built in the 1950s, with each floor being 12 by 12 feet. There were no separate rooms, like the new building will have, Irish said.

“There wasn’t really anything to it, but at the time it was good,” he said.

A sketch shows how the regional live fire training facility in Cortlandville will look when it is completed behind the Cortlandville Fire Station on Route 13.

However, during the time it was built no heat-resistant material was used in the building — it was mainly concrete — and over time heat has caused damaged to the walls and floors, making it unsuitable for fire training.

“Concrete doesn’t last long when heat is on it,” Irish said. It is now used for ladder and smoke training.

The new facility is also a way to give back to the other departments, Whitney said. The Cortlandville Fire Department started in 1982 and Whitney said it didn’t have much money for equipment, so neighboring departments rallied to make sure it could adequately serve Cortlandville residents.

“The district has never forgotten,” Whitney said. “It was an opportunity to provide this.”

The facility would typically be used about six times a year, no more than 12 times a year, its application states.

The building will be used for ladder training, hose training. Even rope and rappelling training, he said. “We’ll do a lot of dry runs.”

The building would be used for live fire training monthly, Whitney said. “If that.”