Darke County Association of Fire Chiefs talk county fire training facility

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An image of the proposed fire training facility.

GREENVILLE—The Darke County Association of Fire Chiefs was established in 1984, to recognize the need for unity amongst the 21 fire departments in Darke County and surrounding communities.

The fire departments included in the association are Ansonia, Hollansburg, Pitsburg, Arcanum, Laura, Rossburg, Bradford, Liberty TWP, Russia, Burkettsville, New Madison, Union City (OH), Gettysburg, New Paris, Verona,Greenville
North Star, Versailles, Greenville TWP, Osgood and West Manchester.

In 2021, the group became a non-profit 501(c)(3) Public Charity for purposes of providing training and education to the county’s fire service. This includes the operation and maintenance of a county training facility.

The Darke County Regional Training Facility, which will be available to all stations, will serve as a place for advanced education and training in fire suppression, fire prevention, rescue, and emergency medical services.

Years ago, the stations did a lot of fire training on structures people were looking to demolish, or structures that were vacant.

“We used to do a lot of live fire training in vacant structures and things like that,” Versailles Fire Chief Brian Pearson said. “They put in a lot of procedures and regulations to make that happen, and a lot of it becomes cost-defective for the stations to follow all of the guidelines.”

However, the proposed fire training facility will fill that training gap. The building will provide a safe but effective environment for fire training, and enhance the community’s well-being through better fire protection and fire prevention.

Different angles of the proposed Darke County Fire training facility.

The live fire training facility fabricated from new shipping containers is estimated at $750,000, (not including infrastructure costs). As well as six 40’ containers & six 20’ containers, four 20’ containers for training tower, six 40’ containers & two 20’ containers representing a two-story residential structure with attached two-car garage, two Class B (propane or natural gas) burn rooms (one on each floor) and one Class A (ordinary combustibles) burn room (1st floor) and more than 4,300 square feett of training area.

“Basically what the training facility is representing is a two-story house,” Greenville Fire Chief Russ Thompson said. “It’s all connected. There’s doors and you can go from one room to the other.”

The association said the construction of a Darke County training facility would open doors in education for fire stations in the area.

Currently, fire stations in and around Darke County only have two accredited training facilities available to train at, Clark State Community College in Springfield and the Apollo Career Center in Lima.

“The one at Clark State is always full,” Pearson said. “There are not many of these around.”

Although the association has a revenue stream to maintain and operate such a facility, they don’t have the funds to build it.

“If we could have everyone in the county throw in $10, we’re done,” Pearson said. “But that’s not totally doable. The big thing now is just getting the word out there.”

The group has made it easy for businesses, and those in the community to sponsor the project.

As a part of the CHIEFS’ Campaign, or the Communities Helping Improve Education of the Fire Service Campaign, they created nine different sponsorship levels.

Fire Commissioner Sponsorship ……………. $150,000+
Fire Chief Sponsorship ……………$100,000 – $149,999
Deputy Chief Sponsorship …………. $50,000 – $99,999
Assistant Chief Sponsorship………. $25,000 – $49,999
Battalion Chief Sponsorship………. $10,000 – $24,999
Captain Sponsorship ……………………. $5,000 – $9,999
Lieutenant Sponsorship………………… $1,000 – $4,999
Firefighter Sponsorship ……………………… $500 – $999
Recruit Sponsorship ……………………………… $1 – $499

All supporters of the campaign who donate $500 or more will be recognized on a sponsorship sign/billboard once the project is completed.

For more information, go to the Darke County Association of Fire Chiefs Facebook Page. For questions, contact Chief Thompson at 937-548-3040, 937-459-8433, or rthompson@cityofgreenville.org, or Chief Pearson at 937-423-4164, or
brianpearson@versaillesoh.com.