By Crystal McGough, Associate Editor
PINSON – Center Point Fire District held a ribbon cutting and groundbreaking ceremony for its brand-new Tri-Cities Training Facility on Saturday, March 18, at 11 a.m. Phase One of the project is now complete, with a training tower that can be used not only by Center Point, but several other fire districts, as well.
“We’re calling it ‘Tri-Cities’ because we have Center Point, Clay and Pinson that we cover,” CPFD Cpt. Chris Horn said. “It’s not just for us; it’s for Palmerdale, Fultondale, Tarrant (fire districts) to come train in. Actually, the sheriff’s department is going to do some training there next week.”
Center Point Fire Board President Jody Harris expressed his thanks to those he called the “key individuals responsible for this accomplishment,” Battalion Chief Brandon Dahlen and Captain Chris Horn.
“Today we reached a milestone in the history of the Center Point Fire District, the dedication of Phase One of the Tri-Cities Training Center,” he said. “This long-desired facility will enable the District to provide safe, effective, professional training. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the cooperation of many partners. This Training Center was built with resources from the Center Point Fire District, the Cities of Center Point, Clay and Pinson, Joe Knight and the other members of the Jefferson County Commission, members of the Legislature from our area as well as several businesses in our area.”
The mayors and city council members from Center Point, Clay and Pinson were all present for the ribbon cutting, in addition to other local and state public figures.
“(Alabama State Senator) Linda Coleman-Madison was there,” Horn said. “She’s been very instrumental in giving us funding to do this.”
The Pinson City Council presented CPFD with a proclamation recognizing the official name of the tower as the Battalion Chief Brandon Dahlen Training Tower.
“The proclamation read (that) the training tower was named after Battalion Chief Brandon Dahlen, which is our training chief,” Horn said. “He was down there, hands-on, doing everything to try to save the department money.”
After the ribbon cutting ceremony, those in attendance proceeded to a groundbreaking for the site of a future recruit-training school. The school will be Phase Two of the project, and Horn said CPFD hopes to have it completed by mid-2024.
“Hopefully we’ll get some funding rolling in where we can actually put up a structure out there for classrooms,” Horn said. “That way we can hopefully host recruit schools. Right now, we have to send recruits down to Tuscaloosa for recruit school, so that will help us (and) help Palmerdale eventually.”
In all, the training facility is a little over seven acres, located at 5125 Old Pinson Road.
“We are not done yet! There is more to come,” Board President Harris said. “As each of you use this facility, I want you to recall the dedication these two leaders (Dahlen and Horn) have put into creating the first part of this Training Center. I encourage you to use your time on this campus to develop your skills and increase your knowledge in the ever-evolving emergency service profession.”
In other, but related, news, Horn said Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight surprised the Center Point Fire District at last Monday’s board meeting with a $550,000 grant to help open CPFD Station 3 in Pawnee.
“Our Station 3 that we had in Pawnee was closed down years and years ago,” Horn said. “It was funded by the county; the county didn’t have any money, so they took that station and they took all the assets with them. So we were looking for property (and) we brought property during Chief (Donnie) West’s tenure.”
The grant from Commissioner Knight will help the fire district build a structure on the property, which is located on Pawnee Avenue.
For their contributions to the training facility and tower, Center Point Fire District gave special thanks to the Center Point Fire Board of Trustees, Battalion Chief Brandon Dahlen, all the men and women of the Center Point Fire District, All South Steelworx (fabrication containers), City of Pinson (land), City of Clay (equipment), City of Center Point (equipment), Blalock Building Company, Metro Trailers, United Rentals, Bama Concrete, Birmingham Water Works, Southern Pipe, John’s Plumbing, Sunbelt Rentals, Tomlin Excavating, Kamtek, Representative Treadway, Representative Garrett, Senator Coleman-Madison, Senator Shelnutt, CAWACO’s Patti Pennington, Commissioner Joe Knight, Trussville Gas & Water, Autocar, Campbell’s Paving, Vulcan Materials, Andy’s Towing, Jefferson County and Energy System Southeast.