Last year Mount Carmel received an ISO fire insurance rating of four, the lowest in Hawkins County not including Kingsport. In order to maintain, if not improve upon that rating the department is involved in several programs including seeking grant funds to build a fire substation in the Carters Valley area.
ISO surveys also place a great emphasis on training. Last week, thanks to a $3,500 grant awarded by area Home Depot stores, the Mount Carmel Volunteer Fire Department began construction on what will eventually be a four-level fire training tower.
That $3,500 will be enough to cover the first two floors of the training tower, Chief Chris Jones said. On Thursday a group of employee volunteers from Home Depot helped build the first level of the training tower.
Home Depot employees participating in the project traveled from as far away as Knoxville, North Carolina, Johnson City and other stores across the region.
The group is expected to come back within a month or two and help complete the second story, at which time the MCVFD will actually be able to use the new structure.
“Part of the ISO scoring formula deals with your training and what training facilities are available to your firefighters,” Jones said. “I’m really grateful to Home Depot for their help on this because this tower is going to have a big impact on our department and our town as a whole. It’s going to mean better trained firefighters, and also will hopefully keep the fire insurance premiums down for our local property owners with our low ISO rating.”
Jones added that the new tower will also benefit other area fire departments that train in Mount Carmel as well.
The MCVFD already has a live burn training facility, as well as some cut-out hydrants and pumper. The tower was the next step in the department’s progressive in-house training program.
Construction of all four levels of the tower might take a year to complete. With the completion of the second story, however, the tower will become functional.
When it’s completed the four-story tower will be used for ladder training, training firefighters on the roof, high angle rescue and confined space rescues.
“Once we put the wall up, we can start training on two-story dwellings which is pretty much the tallest structure we have in Mount Carmel,” Jones said. “This will help us train getting in and out of windows, where to place ladders, how to raise ladders, how to operate hoses on ladders, how to take ladders down, and how to properly operate a ladder.”
Jones added, “To complete the tower up to four stories we’ll probably need about $4,500, and our goal is to raise that much and hopefully have it completed in about a year.”