Fire Department Offered Old Church For Training Exercises In Carolina Beach

The Carolina Beach Fire Department joined with numerous other departments from North and South Carolina to conduct a live burn of a large house on Cape Fear Blvd on December 7th 2019.  Now they are considering an offer to conduct training at a recently sold church property. The Carolina Beach Fire Department joined with numerous other departments from North and South Carolina to conduct a live burn of a large house on Cape Fear Blvd on December 7th 2019. Now they are considering an offer to conduct training at a recently sold church property.

Fire Department Offered Old Church For Training Exercises In Carolina Beach Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 24 March 2021 03:19

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  The CMA Church located on 8th Street in Carolina Beach recently sold in January of this year and the new owner has offered the building to the Carolina Beach Fire Department to use for fire training. The owner plans to divide the property and sell the lots for residential development.
Fire Chief Alan Griffin spoke to the Town Council during their March 23rd, workshop meeting about the donation.
Councilman Jay Healy asked Council to weigh in on the "optics" of "burning a church in the south" for fire fighter training during the meeting noting that it may raise some concerns among citizens.
Healy said, "I just need to find out what it looks like" and on the topic of such a controlled burn he said, "I would just to like to get some feedback on what that would look like. I've had a couple of citizens approach me."
Mayor Leanne Pierce asked what kind of feedback Healy had received and he responded, "How can we think about burning a church in the south, was basically the topic."
Healy said, "It's the optics of it."
Fire Chief Alan Griffin said, "As of Friday, it's a building. It's owned now by a private owner. We don't refer to it as a church."
Griffin said the department will remove the cross on the building and, "When I approached the manager about it, the actual investor contacted us and said you guys could use it for training and if you could burn it  would benefit for training. It's a huge benefit for the fire department to get he training especially in buildings we typically don't get to train in. My concern up front was the public image of it being a previous church facility and I talked to the Town Manager and we both agreed we want you guys to have full disclosure of what we were thinking about doing."
Griffin said they wanted to make sure the Council was aware of the training and would approve of it and to alert the Council of potential feedback from the community.
He explained, "The last  thing we want to do is have a negative connotation put on the fire department or the Town. We work really hard to keep our image with the Town. It is a unique opportunity for our staff to work in those type buildings. Church fires are not uncommon because they are vacant most of the time and take lightning strikes to steeples often and so around the country you see a lot of fires and they very unique because they are very open in one part and they are very confined in others with classrooms, hallways and just like this one, three different times at least."
Chief Griffin said during a walk through there were still fixtures in the building including seating and some asbestos tiles which will all be removed by the owner prior to the training exercises due to state regulations that dictate what can be burned during such exercises.
He said, "When we start training in it, the building will be pretty much cleaned out for the burn because we can't leave things the state doesn't allow us." The state will come out and inspect the building before the training exercises.
He said there are residential homes surrounding the property but he is not concerned due to the safety measures the department has used during past training exercises and will utilize during this exercise.
Councilman Lynn Barbee said, "My family was a member of that church for many, many years when it was the CMA church. I was married in that church. I don't see the building as the church. The church is the people. That's my personal opinion on that and I'm sure some people will disagree with that."
Barbee said that the Deck House Restaurant in Carolina Beach was formerly a church and, "My point is, when the members left the building it got re-purposed as a wonderful restaurant and it's great" and he said his point was he didn't feel any negativity about using the church on 8th Street for fire department training.
Mayor Pierce said as long as all religious symbols are removed, she would feel better about the situation.
The last residential fire department training exercise in Carolina Beach was held in December of 2019 on Cape Fear Blvd.

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