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N.J. county to spend $3.6M on new burn training facility for firefighters

Hunterdon County will break ground on a new four-story, 5,500-square-foot burn facility to replace the current facility deemed “near its end of life”

Caroline Fassett

At the start of 2020, the Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners director pinpointed one of his main goals to be “putting a shovel in the ground” for an upgraded Emergency Services Training Complex.

At the tail end of 2020, he came one step closer to accomplishing just that.

The commissioners approved a construction contract to replace a burn training facility at the Hunterdon County Emergency Services Training Center in Clinton Township on Wednesday, Dec. 30.

This contract was awarded to Grade Construction, Inc, of Paterson, which offered the lowest of seven public bids received by the county at $3.6 million, a press release shared with NJ Advance Media said.

According to Director Shaun C. Van Doren, the highest bid amounted to $4.6 million, and the next lowest to $4.159 million.

“We believe the competitive bid process has worked in the county’s favor,” Van Doren said in the press release.

Under the contract, a four-story, 5,500-square-foot burn facility will replace the current facility in Clinton Township, which is over 25 years old and “near its end of life,” Van Doren said in the release.

The building will include various simulators used by volunteer first responders for necessary training, as well as major site improvements like the addition of a water storage tank and pump house, a series of fire hydrants, a 1,000 foot roadway and area for parking, concrete pads around the structure, a propane tank facility, and lighting for night training.

“Having a safe and technologically up to date burn building for training is vitally important in ensuring the proficiency and professionalism of our county volunteer emergency responders,” Van Doren said in the release.

The construction of the burn building represents the first phase of the overall evolution of the county’s ESTC, which also calls for the creation of a vehicle storage facility for the county’s fire apparatus and a classroom and administration facility to support the training of first responders.

Plans for the complex were approved by the freeholder board in July 2019.

“This project has been on the drawing board since 2013, the capital funding was put in place in 2016,” Van Doren said in the release. “We want to see the entire project completed, however, the phase in approach is in line with the judicious financial approach the Board takes to the expenditure of tax dollars.”

Brayden Fahey, the county’s acting Public Safety Director and Office of Emergency Management Coordinator, noted in the release that the new facility will “transform the way Hunterdon County trains our first responders for many years to come.”

“The building is designed to allow first responders to train for a variety of technical rescue incidents by equipping the structure with various simulators, props, and obstacles, affording the most realistic training experience possible,” Fahey said.


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