Congressman Jim Himes visited the city's Central Fire Station Tuesday. The $16 million facility opened last year and includes the fire station, an indoor training facility, and the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
"We really need the capacity to coordinate first responders not just in Norwalk but also with the National Guard, and with the state police. It's facilites like this one where all the communications come together in one place, where people can come together in one place that makes that work," said Congressman Himes.
The Norwalk Central Fire Station and Emergency Operations Center is a 31,000 square-foot, energy-efficient, modern fire department headquarters, training center, and EOC. The EOC houses office space for staff, conducts volunteer training and community education programs, and has meeting space to coordinate response efforts during emergencies.
In 2011, Congressman Himes helped secure a federal grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Operations Center Program to build and supply the EOC within the Norwalk facility. Norwalk was one of just three cities nationwide to receive the maximum $1 million from the grant program that year.
Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said, "This space gives the city a focal point of its activities during a disaster. We use it regularly to prepare for those disasters by bringing people together, demonstrating the capacity of the equipment, making sure everyone knows how to access the technology and use the electronics effectively, so when an emergency does occur, that no one is learning the system."
The station's indoor training facility allows fire fighters to properly train for a number a situations they may come across while on a call.
"We want to make sure we're building our training around real life emergencies that they will be confronted with," said Chief McCarthy.
Congressman Himes says the facility is a wise investment in public safety.
"The technology is amazing but at the end of the day, the job these guys do involves going into those burning buildings. You have the training space where they can recreate an apartment or house with different scenarios and do the nitty-gritty work that needs to be done."