The Gravenhurst Fire Department’s new training facility is more than state-of-the-art.
That’s according to Fire Chief Jared Cayley, who says the Chief L.E. McNeice Training Centre is a fully-modular space with movable walls– something that’s “never been done before.”
“In the space, we can make it into a full-sized house, with three bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a dining room, that kind of thing. Or we can make it into a single or two-bedroom apartment,” says Cayley. “ There’s so many ways we can configure it. We can basically recreate any or all facilities that we would have to enter for a rescue or any type of emergency mitigation.”
Cayley says the facility features thermal imaging cameras, windows of all sizes and heights to practice with a tower ladder, as well as air-filled hose boxes and sprinklers, a natural gas meter, and alarm system. On top of that, the facility has a rubberized floor to practice structural integrity checks, and can be filled with training smoke to simulate a real fire.
“It just opens up an incredible amount of training we can do,” says Cayley.
The training centre is located in the department’s Station 1 Headquarters at 190 Harvie Street. It’s named for Lorne McNeice, a firefighter with the department from 1972 to 2012, who was fire chief for 27 years. Cayley says it’s a great way to honour his legacy, as he was a mentor to many people still in the service today.
According to Cayley, it has been in the works since the Ontario Fire College was closed last year. He says he tasked the department to come up with a “dream space” for fire training, which was approved by town council and added to the budget.
“It’s just an incredible training facility. We don’t know of any other facilities like it,” says Cayley. “The closure of the Fire College eliminated a really good local resource, and we had to think on our feet. So you’ve got to see it to really understand what an incredible, incredible piece of training kit it is for us.”
According to Cayley, recruits will start training in the centre at the end of this month. Once the department is more comfortable with the space, he says it’ll be opened up for neighbouring fire departments to use. After that, he says the “sky’s the limit” on other fire services training there.
Cayley invites the public to tour the new facility on its opening night, Sept. 15 at 7:00 p.m..
“Come on out and have a look, ask some questions,” says Cayley. “I’m incredibly proud of this team every single day. And now to add this to our arsenal, keep them on the cutting edge, it’s just going to be an amazing addition to their skillset. I’m very excited about the future of our department.”