AVON - Plans to spend $345,000 to build a three-story training tower for the Avon Fire Department are on hold.

City Council voted during its Nov. 18 work session to postpone the project until planners re-evaluate the design, city engineer Ryan Cummins said.

The city approved the project earlier this year and put it out to bid. But the only bid it received was more than 10% higher than the estimated cost, Cummins said.

"Instead of re-sending this out for bids, we will re-evaluate site improvements, the costs and potential supplies needed for the academy and then consider bringing this back before City Council," he said.

In September, the Avon Fire Department received a 2 rating from the Insurance Services Office, an independent national firm that reviews fire services every five years. The firm issues scores on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best. Scores are based on the efficiency of a department’s emergency communications system and the department’s personnel, capabilities, training, equipment, water supply, community risk reduction and water services.

To maintain that rating, the department hopes to add the training area in the parking lot behind its headquarters at 36185 Detroit Road. Department personnel are required to undergo 16 hours of training each month to maintain the rating.

The facility will allow firefighters to practice rappelling off the tower, perform confined-space drills and use forcible entry and other skills needed in an emergency.

The training area's main feature would be a three-story tower where firefighters would participate in physical exercises and strategic firefighting drills. The tower would include features to swiftly set up ladders, a simulator to cut holes through roofs, and an adjustable maze to conduct practice drills, said Capt. Mike Panehal.

"We put a lot of work into receiving that rating, but our main building is inadequate for the exercises we need to do to be fully prepared for a real-time fire scenario," Panehal said. "We currently can't fully accommodate or execute our training inside the main facility. We need to have a facility that would allow us to have exercises for real-time scenarios.”

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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