SCC Center Provides Home for Public Safety Training
Local fire departments, rescue squads and law-enforcement agencies now have a new, permanent training ground.
On Friday morning, Sandhills Community College dedicated the Larry R. Caddell Public Safety Training Center, which will serve as the site for specialized training operations for volunteer and professional public safety personnel through SCC’s continuing education program.
The center will allow local departments to regularly schedule training exercises that offer personnel the chance to practice various emergency scenarios.
The $2.5 million training facility, which was funded by the 2000 state bond referendum and the 2007 Moore County bond referendum, sits on a 40-acre tract next to the old Carthage Fabrics plant on Niagara Carthage Road.
The center includes a 1.5-story residential burn building, a drafting pit, a four-story drill tower for rappelling and rescue simulations, a control tower and mobile classroom unit.
In the future, the college hopes to add an indoor firing range and a driving track where emergency service groups can practice driving vehicles.
SCC President John Dempsey called the dedication “a milestone” for Moore County.
“We’ve been talking about this for 15 years,” Dempsey said. “The whole thing has come together to serve Moore County and its surrounding counties well. It’s really going to serve a whole region of the state.”
The SCC Board of Trustees named the center after Caddell, now a former board member and a current Moore County commissioner, because of his extensive public service to Moore County.
Caddell was instrumental in helping the college acquire the land for the center by working with the Riddle family to purchase it through the Century Committee of Carthage. He has been a member of the board of trustees for the last 26 years and has been a county commissioner since 2006.
Caddell described the dedication as one of the “most humbling things” he has ever experienced.
“This is a great day for Moore County, and I’m honored to be in this position that I’m in,” he said during the ceremony. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
As a former volunteer firefighter and assistant fire chief with the Carthage Fire Department, Caddell said he understands the sacrifice of volunteer service that many in the community often overlook. Caddell said he wishes more people could understand the sacrifice and the dangers of being a firefighter.
“My heart has always gone out to those guys who do this for nothing,” he said. “People don’t realize what they do. This is a tough profession. This [center] is going to make them better firefighters.”
During the ceremony, he emphasized the invaluable service that public safety personnel provide every day by recounting the loss of his home in a house fire just over a year ago.
“My wife, Lisa, and I really understand what having a fire department is all about,” he said.
Caddell recounted the call he received from his son that night when he learned his home had burned.
“He said, ‘Dad, the house is gone, but you’d be proud — there’s firetrucks as far as you can see,’” Caddell said. “That’s what today is all about. It’s not about Larry Caddell. It’s to make our firefighters safer.”
Caddell also praised the efforts of SCC for its service to the community and called his position on the college’s board of trustees “one of the best jobs” he has ever had.
“[Sandhills] afforded people like me to have an education that I wouldn’t have had without them,” he said. “If God gave me a special job, it was to be a trustee at this college.”
After the dedication ceremony and a ribbon-cutting, visitors observed training demonstrations, including a building burn and a rappel from the center’s drill tower performed by Rich Gough, SCC vice president of business and administrative services.
“That was fun!” Gough said after rappelling down four stories. “They should charge to do this!”
While the day’s celebration was all in good fun, the center stands to give Moore County emergency personnel a leg up as they continually train to serve the community.
The public safety division of the college’s continuing education program helps meet the training needs for local law enforcement, emergency medical personnel and fire departments by offering training classes, certification courses, seminars and other programs.
Andi Korte, dean of continuing education, said the center helps address the need for more expertise in public safety services that has grown in correlation with increased development Moore County over the last few years.
Just this past year, SCC offered 242 training events for local departments.
Jayne Heisig, public service training coordinator, has seen significant growth in local fire departments just in her 19 years at the college.
“The fire services have just developed so much as far as rules and regulations go,” she said. “There is so much more accountability and safety to consider.”
She said the center will address the demand for more services by guaranteeing access to the specialized training that departments need for personnel certification.
In the past, the college has not been able to provide comprehensive training experiences for students because fire departments had to wait for a structure to become available to perform live training for building burns.
Heisig said she often had to make do in classes by simulating the training with burning vehicles or pallets instead.
“It’s really complicated to make that happen,” she said. “This [center] will make it so that any time there is a class, we will be able to burn. They’ll be able to train properly and safely.”
Floyd Fritz, deputy chief of the Pinehurst Fire Department, said he sees opportunity for local departments to train together and develop stronger working relationships that are invaluable in an emergency.
“This center provides unity between departments because it allows us all to train at the same time,” he said. “It allows us to train in a cohesive manner.”
Contact Hannah Sharpe at email@example.com.
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