Fire officials from across the province joined local firefighters and political representatives to witness the groundbreaking ceremony held Friday, July 30, at the Emergency Services Training Centre in Blyth. The event coincided with another major event – the North Huron fire department was hosting the Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario conference in Blyth.The new technology building will do much more than replace the present portable classroom with a facility that will allow multiple courses to be run at the same time. It will provide a better learning environment for students and appropriate indoor storage for the the centre's equipment.The contract for the building has been awarded to Domm Construction of Ayton and is scheduled for completion in March of next year.David Sparling, coordinator of the training centre, served as master of ceremonies for the groundbreaking. He told the crowd that MP Ben Lobb's announcement in April of the $750,000 investment in the centre through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) means a great deal to the area and beyond. "We started this (centre) as a collection of firefighters who wanted to improve our skills," said Sparling. "The new technology building is designed to meet the needs of firefighter training." And that will mean better skills and greater safety, not just for North Huron firefighters but those from the many other departments that will use the facility.There will also be a substantial economic spinoff for the community, he noted.The municipality is partnering with the federal government on the project and has matched the federal investment. North Huron reeve Neil Vincent spoke of the dedication and commitment of firefighters, most of whom in this part of the country are volunteers. The new technology building will help ensure they are trained and equipped for the job.Vincent said he is sure the new building will be "extremely well used" in light of the fact it's the only facility of its kind outside the fire college at Gravenhurst. Vincent said he expects many departments, especially in the south part of the province, will want to use the Blyth facility, with "Ontario Fire College instructors doing Ontario Fire College courses." He noted the North Huron chief became acquainted with this area through teaching courses at the Blyth facility.Lobb was represented at the ceremony by Bill Strong, who spoke of recognizing the importance of volunteer firefighters.The Ontario Fire Marshall's office was represented by Thom Evered, fire protection advisor.North Huron fire chief John Black told the crowd, "This is a happy event for us, and the community."Among the crowd of well-wishers was Bill Burns, outgoing president of the Fire Fighters' Association of Ontario. Burns expressed his congratulations to the North Huron department for not only breaking ground for the new expansion, but for hosting the annual FFAO conference. "The Association appreciates your hard work, as I know you will work to benefit all firefighters," he said.
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