FLEMINGTON, NJ – Hunterdon Freeholders took a giant step last week towards building a $6.9 million Emergency Services Training Complex.

The facility will serve volunteer firefighters from 27 county volunteer fire companies as well as other emergency first responders, who will receive state required training at the upgraded eight-acre site.

Freeholders approved the plan at their regular meeting July 2.

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The upgraded complex in Clinton Township is to include a 40-foot live burn training tower. It will replace the existing facilities, which officials said are between 26 and 40 years old and due for repalcement. The capital funding for the project was approved in an ordinance three years ago.

“The development of the training complex has moved through many iterations,” said Freeholder Board Director Suzanne Lagay in a press release. The county worked with the Fire and EMS Chief’s associations and the training staff to develop the plan, she said.

“The volunteer firefighters I know will tell you, nothing beats live practice to build teamwork,” said Freeholder Matt Holt.

Holt said that that volunteer fire companies are hard pressed for resources, so the county’s training complex is “another example of the County’s commitment to shared services.”

Hunterdon County Chief of Staff and Public Safety Director George Wagner told the Freeholders the training complex had 4,500 registrants for 239 training programs last year alone. The training offers both Basic and Advanced Fire Fighter certifications required by the state Division of Fire Safety for volunteer Firefighters, in addition to other training and live practice activities.

The complex also provides training for other disciplines, such as the HAZMAT team, Emergency Medical Services, county volunteer rescue squads, law enforcement units throughout the county, the state Department of Corrections, the Sheriff’s Office and the SWAT team.

Anthony Catana of Spiezle Architectural Group will be the County’s architectural consultant for the project.

County Architect Frank Bell told the Freeholder Board that once there is Freeholder approval, the plans will be presented to the Clinton Township Planning Board. Public bids will be sought when the project is ready, Bell said.  

The upgraded training complex will also include:

• A five-bay fire vehicle and equipment storage facility to house and protect the five County-owned fire vehicles used for training and equipment. 

• Facilities for confined space and utility trench training..

• Large concrete pads for extrication training and other intense real-life response activities, such as vehicle fire simulator and Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) scenarios.

• A facility with classrooms equipped with audio visual and information technology infrastructure and instructor preparation areas.

Officials expect the complex to be ready for use in the spring of 2021.