Vandalia hopes to build training center for first responders

City is seeking firms for master plan; could partner with surrounding jurisdictions’ police, fire, EMS

VANDALIA — The city of Vandalia may construct a new training facility for police, fire, and emergency response employees, and the facility could also be used by surrounding jurisdictions.

Vandalia recently published a request for proposals seeking architectural/engineering firms interested in developing a project master plan. Bids are due Feb. 14, and the city has budgeted $15,000 for completion of the master plan.

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“The purpose of this plan is to understand the scope of such a facility, potential peer government partners, and the impact it would have in improving public safety in Vandalia and neighboring jurisdictions,” said City Manager Dan Wendt.

Currently, police officers and firefighters have to travel outside of the city for public safety training.

“The cost of travel, overtime, and staffing to backfill their spots can become cost-prohibitive,” the RFP reads. “Additionally, smaller crew/shift sizes make sending personnel out for training a determent to the service delivery model.”

The city’s intent is to provide a facility where both police and fire employees can conduct training drills and exercises while on duty, according to the RFP document, allowing for the capability to stop training and instantly respond to emergencies with a full crew.

Neighboring fire and police departments would also be able to utilize the training facility.

Funds from the city’s facilities and maintenance fund will go toward the project, including monies from the sale of the city’s old fire station. However Wendt said a total cost estimate for the proposed project will not be determined until after completion and consideration of the master plan.

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In 2021, Vandalia’s first fire station, located on Dixie Drive, was razed as part of a construction project. The station had been used primarily for fire training since the fire station on Peters Pike was opened in 2010, according to city spokesman Rich Hopkins.

At this point in the process, Hopkins said, there is no determined location for the proposed training facility.

“We recognize a training center would have value to both our fire and police divisions, and we would like to hire a firm to help us determine what that facility should include and where it should be located,” he said.

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