COST $2.1 million
COMPLETION TARGETED April
The Delaware State Fire School's Sussex division is currently undergoing an expansion project that will triple the available classroom space at the Georgetown facility.
The project, which began in October, will renovate 5,000 square feet of the existing facility and add another 2,200 square feet to the building, including two new classrooms capable of holding up to 50 students each.
Once it's completed in April, the project will more than triple the available classroom space available at the facility, add more office space and provide a new reception area.
The project was funded as a part of the state capital improvement budget approved by the Delaware General Assembly last year.
The Delaware State Fire School's Sussex County branch was built in the early 1990s and originally had two classrooms but one was later converted for use by the state fire marshal's technical services division.
Volunteers from all 21 fire departments in Sussex County attend training at the fire school each year in topics ranging from emergency medical services, firefighting, hazardous material response, flammable gases and vehicle rescue. A variety of public education programs also are offered at the Park Avenue facility each year.
WHY IT'S NEEDED
Mike Lowe, a senior instructor at the fire school, said the Georgetown facility's lone classroom is currently booked every night of the week, often months in advance.
"With the expansion, we'll be able to offer more training opportunities to our member agencies in Sussex County and without requiring them to travel to our headquarters in Dover," he said. "Right now, we only have one classroom that holds about 40 people, so scheduling and overcrowding is a real issue for us."
Ryan Mock, the fire chief of the Indian River Fire Department in Long Neck, said the expansion will provide greater convenience and more training opportunities for all firefighters in the county.
"Everybody has fulltime jobs, so for a lot of our volunteers it can be pretty hard to keep a regular work schedule and get to Dover for training, especially for things like EMT classes, which can stretch over several months," he said. "Being able to attend the same classes in Georgetown means a much shorter drive, plus it makes it easier on the departments when we need to schedule training. Right now, I usually have to call three to four months in advance to reserve the one classroom they have there now."
Call the Delaware State Fire School at (302) 739-4773.