A facility that could lead to a lower ISO rating for unincorporated Cherokee County will soon open in Holly Springs.
Cherokee County leaders held a groundbreaking Tuesday to welcome the construction of a fire training facility.
The complex, located on 14.29 acres at 3985 Holly Springs Parkway, will encompass several features designed to help advance training among Cherokee County fire fighters as well as improve the county's split Insurance Service Office Rating of 5/9.
The facility, located on the former Pike's Nursery site, will have a concrete "live fire" structure, a multi-story concrete tower that will be used to assist search and rescue training evaluations, an apparatus classroom with showers, a fitness room and a small medical room.
A small pond on the property will be used to gather stormwater for training purposes. Also on site will be an elevated observation area where families can watch the training exercises, said Tim Cavender, director of public affairs for Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services.
The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners during its Sept. 18 meeting awarded a contract to CABLIK Enterprises LLC to build the facility for $3 million. Construction on the training facility is expected to take a year and officials hope it will open around October 2013.
County leaders believe the facility will help improve the county's ISO rating. The ISO system is used to rate how well fire departments serve their area. The scale runs from one to 10, with one being the best fire service. The ratings are used to calculate homeowners’ insurance costs.
The county's ISO rating was reviewed earlier this year and it learned in August that it would retain its current rating. The city of Woodstock retained its rating of 3 in a review that took place late last year and the city of Canton has yet to be reviewed on its 4 rating.
The county's split rating applies to two separate areas of service. Homes that are located on water systems with fire hydrants where water is available are eligible to receive the 5 rating. Homes in areas that have no water systems with fire hydrants and are located within a five-mile radius of a fire station are only eligible to receive the 9 rating.
County and city leaders attending the ceremony include Cherokee County Fire Chief Tim Prather, Assistant Fire Chief Eddie Robinson, County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens, County Commissioners Jim Hubbard and Harry Johnston, Holly Springs City Manager Rob Logan, County Manager Jerry Cooper, Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce CEO & President Pam Carnes, Cherokee Office of Economic Development President Misti Martin.