State earmarks funds for fire schools

The Naugatuck Valley Regional Fire Training School will be built on 11 acres of state-owned land in Beacon Falls’ Pinesbridge Commerce Park. –FILE PHOTO

The Naugatuck Valley Regional Fire Training School will be built on 11 acres of state-owned land in Beacon Falls’ Pinesbridge Commerce Park. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — The start of construction of a new fire training school in Beacon Falls is more than a year away. However, the project took another step forward this week.

The agenda for the state Bond Commission’s meeting Thursday includes $1.5 million for the environmental remediation and architectural design for five fire schools in the state, including the one to be built in the Pinesbridge Commerce Park. (The money is item 23 on page 29 of the agenda.)

The funding is the latest to be released by the state for the projects and another step toward reviving the Naugatuck Valley Regional Fire Training School.

The Naugatuck Valley Regional Fire Training School was closed in 2000 after the property in Derby was declared a brownfield. The search for a new site for the Valley school eventually led to Beacon Falls. In 2007, state officials driving through the Pinesbridge Commerce Park spotted four lots for sale. It wasn’t until the summer of 2010 when funding became available and the state agreed to buy the lots, 11 acres in all, for $862,500.

According to Department of Construction Services Assistant Director of Project Management Don Ouillette the funding will be spent as needed, rather than any amount being assigned to a specific location. 

Ouillette said the site in Beacon Falls does not need much remediation, so it will not receive as much of the money as the other sites. The other four schools are slated to be built in Fairfield, Torrington, Willimantic and Cheshire.

Remediation work on all sites will take place at the same time to ensure that once building starts each of the lots are clean and ready, Ouillette said.

However, construction of the schools will be staggered.

Ouillette said the fire school in Fairfield will be the first to begin construction and there are already requests for proposals out for the project.

The fire school in Beacon Falls is slated to be built fourth, after the ones in Torrington and Willimantic, Ouillette said. The fire school in Cheshire will be the final one to be completed.

According to Ouillette, construction of the new Naugatuck Valley Regional Fire Training School is slated to start in the summer or fall of 2015.

Once it is completed, the fire school will serve nine towns, including Ansonia, Seymour, Shelton, Derby, Orange, Woodbridge, Oxford, Beacon Falls and Bethany. The fire departments in those towns will be able to send firefighters to the school for hands-on training.

State Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-17), whose district includes Beacon Falls, welcomed the news of the funding in a press release.

“I know I echo the sentiments of firefighters throughout the region with appreciation for all those who have joined me in these efforts toward a new, permanent home for the Valley Regional Fire Training School,” Crisco said. “For more than 10 years local firefighters have had to keep current with firefighting techniques and equipment by traveling statewide for the necessary instruction and training.”

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