City Working To Transfer Fire Training Center To County

By: Shawn Magrath

NORWICH – Nearly four years after first pitching the idea of taking ownership of the fire training center in Norwich, the Chenango County Fire Bureau says the delay has cost the county $1.5 million in grant funding.

Chenango Fire Coordinator Matthew Beckwith revived talks with the Norwich City Council last week that could end with his agency taking total ownership of the fire training center off Prentice Street. While the county owns the buildings on the property, the plot is currently owned by the city.

The lack of total ownership, said Beckwith, has made the county ineligible for millions of dollars in federal grants that could be used to improve the center.

If green-lighted by the Norwich City Council, the property would be transferred to the county for as little as $1. The Fire Bureau could then chase funding for upgrades, including a new burn center for real-life training, additional office space, and equipment storage.

“We've come several times before the committee to ask for a transition and nothing has happened,” Beckwith said to council members at a Norwich Joint Committee meeting Wednesday. He noted that that the council agreed to a transfer in 2016 but failed to follow through with an official resolution, forcing the county to send firefighters to training centers is nearby Madison and Oswego counties for burn building exercises that could be held in Norwich if grant money were available to construct a new burn building.

“The [county] board has approved a resolution authorizing the transfer in the event that it ever does take place,” he added.

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