County BZA approves property for fire-training center

The Huntington County Board of Zoning Appeals has approved the development of a 4.88-acre property owned by Huntington County to become a fire-training center for surrounding counties.

Brandon Taylor of Huntington County Emergency Management came before the board Tuesday, March 24, requesting a special exception for the property, which is zoned for residential use. The property, located off of Indiana Street, will hold a 200 by 125 foot stone pad and a 24 by 32 foot pole barn. Fires will be set within the facility for training purposes.

Only minimal smoke will escape the building, said Taylor, adding that the only noise source from the training will come from the fire truck engine. Light will be shined from the truck but will be aimed directly at the building, he said. A fence currently surrounding the property will remain in use and a lock will be placed on the barn to deter vandalism, he says.

The project is being funded by a $100,000 grant provided by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security as well as donations from area businesses and entities.

Taylor said hopes to be able to fund any maintenance of the building through donations from local businesses, along with assistance from the Huntington County Highway Department. His goal, he said, is to avoid using tax dollars for the site.

In response to concerns from residents, the board limited the hours of use to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Four off-hour events will be allowed each year in order to gain training in the dark.

Fire departments from Huntington, Wabash, Wells and Miami counties will be able to use the facility. Taylor says he hopes to have the facility in use by mid-June.

The board will revisit the docket in a year to assess the progress.