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Mt. Lebanon Fire Department Receives Training Facility Project Approval

It’s all systems go on a new training facility for the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department, whose project was approved by the municipal planning board in March and by the fire commission.

Now, the fire department just needs funding to get the project off the ground.

“We’re just waiting for some funding commitment so that we can sign a contract. The sooner we can sign a contract, the sooner we can get on the (contractor’s) schedule,” said Mt. Lebanon fire Chief Nick Sohyda.

The four-story training facility will cost about $750,000. State Rep. Dan Miller has already secured $200,000 in funding for the project, Sohyda said, and volunteers contributed $100,000 to the new facility.

Because Mt. Lebanon’s is a municipal fire department, the rest of the money will come from either the general fund – budgets are set in mid-January – or from a bond issue, Sohyda said. The fire department does accept donations but, because its focus is training and response, department will not solicit donations or fundraise specifically for this project.

“It’s been a part of our capital budget wish list for many, many years,” said Sohyda, noting his ultimate goal is to have the training facility open next year, if funding comes through soon. “Our struggle, historically, has been two things. One, is for the longest time, if you built a training facility, it was a block building. Our second challenge was finding a location.”

Block buildings built for fire training are incredibly expensive, but the facility Mt. Lebanon will purchase is modular, made of CONEX boxes, like shipping containers, and therefore less costly. The training facility will be located near the public works building on Lindendale Drive, next to the police department’s shooting range.

The location cuts down travel time for larger trainings, which are currently held at facilities in either Washington or Allegheny counties, when the department can get on those schedules.

The training facility will be state-of-the-art, a local place for Mt. Lebanon’s 18 career and 45 volunteer firefighters, who train at least three Monday evenings each month, to learn new skills and sharpen old ones, to better serve the community.

“Right now, we train in a parking lot. I’ve been in the fire service for 37 years now. I have yet to go to a fire in a parking lot,” Sohyda said. “We really need a facility to make training more realistic.”

The fire department worked with an architect to design the facility, which boasts an array of training features, including standpipes, roof props for cutting roofs, and the ability to fill the space with theater smoke.

“We’re able to repel off it. You’re able to throw ladders. It would allow us to train in a lot of disciplines,” Sohyda said.

It would also be put to good use by other fire departments.

“We also run the SHACOG (South Hills Area Council of Governments). SHACOG includes, I think it’s 23 communities with 41 fire departments. Every new firefighter that comes through the entry-level training program will have the luxury of using this training facility. It would be a regional asset,” Sohyda said.

When the regional asset will be completed depends upon when training facility funding is made available. Sohyda hopes the facility will be built and ready for trainings next year.

“We’re excited. We’ve worked on this for a long time, put a lot of effort into this,” he said. “We’re pretty confident this is going to get funded and come to fruition. It’s just a matter of timing.”

For more information on the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department or proposed training facility, visit https://mtlebanon.org/departments/fire-department.

Source : The Almanac