By Hannah Poling
Columbus State Community College is looking to move its burn lab from its current location to the grass lot behind the Pleasant Township Fire Department on Norton Road. Jack McCoy, the coordinator for the school’s southwest campus at Bolton Field attended the Aug. 27 Pleasant Township board meeting to discuss the proposal.
A burn lab is used to train firefighters in multiple different ways. It is composed of a red building called a burn box, which is attached to a horseshoe of shipping containers. The materials to be burned would be stored inside of one of the containers. It is used for search and rescue, ladder training, forceable entry training, and for movement of hoses.
“It allows students or firefighters to practice every skill and prefect it,” said McCoy.
According to McCoy, Columbus State had a burn lab located in Grandview for many years before the containers were moved to Bolton Field, where they have been placed, not constructed, in a parking lot.
“We need a place where we can put it,” he said.
While the burn lab offers training to fire science students at Columbus State, it also offers training to skilled firefighters.
Pleasant Township Fire Chief Brian Taylor said, “It’s not often that a fire department, especially of our size, gets the opportunity to have a burn facility. The amount of training that we could do inside of this is astronomical and invaluable to us.”
Columbus State would use the burn lab six times per year but would make the building available to use by the township and by neighboring fire departments.
“There is no place to train on the westside of Columbus” said McCoy.
The closest certified burn building within 45 miles is the State Fire Academy, and it is not currently available to use. The hope is that Pleasant Township would become a hub for fire training in Southwest Franklin County, Madison County and Pickaway County.
The South-Western City Schools District is also considering adopting a new high school program for seniors to begin fire training. This would be an important part of that program.
“It’s a really exciting part of my life now because we will reach the people we need to reach earlier in life, while they are really developing their professional attitude,” said McCoy.
As part of the draft proposal, Columbus State will have an engineer examine the location.
According to Taylor, the cost of constructing and maintaining the burn lab is still being worked out between the school and the township.
“As it stands now, the township would prepare the ground and the school would put in the foundation and paint and set up the containers,” said the fire chief.
The cost of the upkeep of the burn lab would likely be shared between the college and the township.
The trustees are still reviewing the proposal so there is no timeline yet for the project. McCoy hopes to have the program up and running next year.