A new, state-of-the-art fire building for training firefighters is being built for the Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) to replace an old structure that stood for more than two decades in its East Baltimore neighborhood.
As part of her initiative to rebuild Baltimore, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, accompanied by a host of elected officials, broke ground Aug. 29 for a new fire training building, which will be partially funded by Exelon—a Chicago based energy company.
“Generations of Baltimore City firefighters have trained at this site. This new facility, when completed, will help cadets learn to work together to suppress fires and protect the residents and businesses of Baltimore,” said Rawlings-Blake
According to acting Fire Chief Jeffery Segal, the new burn building will allow all cadets to train in a live-fire situations near the same site where they receive classroom training.
“Since 2008 we have been traveling to Aberdeen, Md., which takes away from valuable lesson time for our cadets, Segal told the AFRO.
The structure has been unoccupied since 2007, after fire cadet Racheal Wilson died during a training exercise at the now demolished structure.
Under an agreement with Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) in 2011, the BGE emergency team will be on had to control the building during the simulated fires.
Segal said training in the burn building is the best way to teach young firefighters to respect fire. They will learn, he said, “as part of a team” how to “suppress a fire and save lives.”
“As this city grows, improving public safety is a priority, and that is why we are making this commitment to the department now. Our investment will reward the future by placing some of the best trained firefighters in the country at stations throughout Baltimore,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The project will cost more than $1.4 million. The city of Baltimore will contribute $974,406 and Exelon agreed they would invest $470,000 for the cost of the new structure, which will ultimately allow BGE employees to use the new Burn Building for training, in conjunction with Baltimore City Firefighters.
Calvin G. Butler Jr., BGE’s senior vice president said, “Exelon is proud to support this project, which will allow BGE employees to train alongside Baltimore City firefighters in a new, state-of-the-art facility.”
“Safety and reliability are BGE's top priorities, and this training center will help enhance emergency response, protect lives and improve quality of life in Baltimore,” Butler said.
The burn building renovation is the first step in a multi-step master plan to renovate the academy into a training hub for the fire department as well as other city agencies and private corporations.
“Better trained cadets become better firefighters, which help make the city safer,” Segal said. “Upon graduation, BCFD cadets will have received the best possible education and preparation for a very dangerous but important job.”
Fire fighter recruits will receive first-class live fire and classroom training and current firefighters and paramedics can go to the new Burn Building to receive refresher training, use the fitness facility and enroll in education courses.
“Our investment will also serve as a catalyst for economic development by creating city jobs, which is a key component of the more than $1 billion package of benefits that Exelon will contribute as part of its merger with Constellation,” Butler said.
The new burn building is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Segal told the AFRO, “We are sad to see the old burn building go,” but the fire department will use the bricks from the old building to construct a 9/11 memorial at the academy.
“It will help preserve the legacy of the burn building for another generation of the BCFD members,” he said.