Franklin County Safety Training Center site named after Dave Burkholder
A recap of the past, a look into the future and a surprise spotlight on today were on the agenda for the Franklin County Public Safety Training Center Friday morning October 7.
Local firefighters, EMS, law enforcement and government officials gathered in the storage garage to mark 20 years since the center’s grand opening and learn about plans for a new non-burning tactical building and site improvements.
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The storage building – the first to be built on the site – had always been referred to as the Morton Building for the structure’s trademark name. It is now known as the Burkholder Building in honor of David W. Burkholder.
“Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said Danny Byers, chairman of the training center board.
What does David W. Burkholder do for public safety in Franklin County?
“They got me,” Burkholder said after the announcement.
“My heart has always been in the fire department,” said Burkholder, who is a life member of the Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Co., which he joined in the early 1970s as a member of the Marion Volunteer Fire Co. and an associate member of a number of the other local fire companies. “I used to fight fires.”
Today, he’s “our guy of choice,” Byers said, explaining that Burkholder tends to the long gravel driveway toward the center, cuts the grass with his own fuel and mower, and “fixes what we break”, in addition to serving on the Board of Directors.
Burkholder’s business, Dave’s Truck Repair, and his home is along US 11 south of Chambersburg off Center Driveway, so he’s also the person who is called when the alarm automatic goes off in the middle of the night.
The 71-year-old pulls large rigs off the highway to help accident responders, tows and performs repairs on emergency service vehicles that break down or get stuck and supplies vehicles for extrication training.
“Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Byers said.
A bronze plaque that will be fixed to the building indicates:
The Burkholder Building Named for David W. Burkholder Owner of Dave’s Truck Repair Who provided guidance and support to the Franklin County Public Safety Training Center for years Dedicated October 7, 2022
“It’s in my heart,” Burkholder repeated, pointing to an ambulance parked in the corner of the building he outfitted for fire and rescue students from Franklin County Career and Technology Center get an idea of what an ambulance looks like on the inside.
And he is ready to do the excavation for free when new water pipes are installed for the fire hydrants at the center as part of the next phase of the site.
What is the Franklin County Public Safety Training Center?
“What began with a dream of the Franklin County Association of Fire Chiefs Over 40 years ago led to the development and operation of a true multi-disciplinary public safety training center that is used not only by local firefighters, but is now also heavily used by the forces of law and order, emergency management, fire policing and mental health. staff,” according to the FCPSTC website.
The land was opened 20 years ago for the training center on land leased from the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, but the vision behind it dates back to a few fire chiefs in the early 1970s talking about coming together for a standardized training. The Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association was formed in 1977, the group’s first training weekend in St. Thomas drew hundreds of firefighters and subsequent sessions held at Letterkenny Army Depot brought in trainees and instructors from the area as well as neighboring states.
The vision for a dedicated training facility remained and was fueled by $100.00 seed capital from the estate of Tony Gargaro of Chambersburg in the mid-1990s. Additional funding was acquired including a grant from the state and $1 per capita from local townships and boroughs which was matched by the county.
“Twenty years ago we pulled the first dirt out of the ground,” said Randy O’Donnell, president of the Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association. “Hundreds of dedicated people made this possible.”
In addition to what is now the Burkholder Building, the center includes a classroom, a burns building, and a vehicle rescue site for hands-on training.
As of October 7, 952 people had completed 928 hours of training at the center this year. The list includes fire and rescue, emergency services, law enforcement and mental health.
A look at the schedule shows that the FCPSTC is in use five or six days most weeks, including Saturdays and Sundays. Courses range from Essentials of Firefighting and Structural Burn sessions to Crime Scene Investigation and Canine in the Court Room; from hazmat awareness and incident command to firefighter training and arson detection/awareness; and from critical incident stress and sobriety checkpoints to constable training and street-level drug investigations.
FCPSTC partners with CareerTech to train high school students in the fire and rescue program and hosts the Junior Firefighter Academy for young members of area businesses. O’Donnell noted that the relationships his children began at Junior Firefighter Academy continue today.
The services provided by those trained at the center benefit everyone who lives in the area and everyone who lives in the area contributes to the centre. All municipalities in Franklin County and six in Cumberland County donate 20 cents per year per capita, or about $35,000.
Municipal money pays for infrastructure, repairs and equipment. Recent purchases include Forced Entry Door Simulator, $8,000; fire extinguisher simulator, $12,000; and SCBA air compressor, $35,000.
What’s next at the Franklin County Public Safety Training Center?
It will cost well over 20 cents per person to pay for future development of the center and a $500,000 impact grant is being sought from Franklin County.
The county will award $10 million in impact grants funded by the COVID-19 American Rescue Plan Act. The application review process is just beginning, according to deputy county administrator John Thierwechter, who was on the training center program Oct. 7.
Additional land was leased to CareerTech to the west of the existing buildings, bringing FCPSTC’s ownership to 8 acres.
The new tactical training building – consisting of a house, garage and five-story tower – will be used for everything but live fire, Byers said, noting, “The burnt out building is getting so dirty. .. we burn in it all the time.”
The 3,000 square foot building will be used for training such as smoke drills, search and rescue, advancing hose lines, law enforcement entry tactics and cage emergencies stairs, as well as classrooms.
The plan also includes water and hydrant upgrades and the installation of a new, wider driveway.
Shawn Hardy is a reporter for Gannett’s Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania – Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro, and Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has over 35 years of journalism experience. Contact her at [email protected].