The John Ashman Fire Training Complex, a new joint fire training center in Lewisville, is on schedule for fall completion after city officials resolved a groundwater flooding issue late June.

The training center broke ground Jan. 10 and will be used by firefighters in Lewisville, Flower Mound and Highland Village. The facility provides a central location so that firefighters won't have to travel as far for training.

Construction crews hit groundwater while excavating the site to pour the foundation earlier this year. This caused massive flooding which used up the project’s contingency funds to rectify, said City Manager Claire Powell at a June 17 meeting.

Two-minute impact

For days, crews pumped the water out and lined the perimeter with a concrete base fill, Powell said. The project originally allocated $373,380 in contingency funds with $360,137 siphoned to fix the flooding issue.

The contingency fund is designed to cover unforeseen building costs. Subterranean issues are usually one of the biggest unknown factors of any construction project, Public Information Officer Matt Martucci said in an email.

The city projects a remaining $220,137 in mitigation costs for the project, prompting officials to request an additional $395,000 supplemental funding to replenish the lost contingency money, Powell said. City officials approved the request by reallocating funds designated to public safety building projects.

“Because this is a very time [constrained] process, we are going to front this funding and then [Flower Mound and Highland Village] are going to work on an interlocal agreement to get us the money on the back end, ” Powell said.

Since the flooding occurred because of natural groundwater flow patterns, no insurance policy would help cover the damages, but mitigation was successful and the steel has been erected at the site, Powell said.

The context

Named after longtime Lewisville fire fighter trainer John Ashman, the new center will help Lewisville, Flower Mound and Highland Village departments meet training requirements from the Insurance Services Office—a national organization whose ratings are used by insurance companies for setting rates. The organization’s ratings can have a far-reaching effect on business recruitment and resident relocation, according to previous Community Impact reporting.

The departments are aiming for the organization’s highest rating. The better the rating, the better the commercial and residential rates can be, Flower Mound Fire Chief Paul Henley told Community Impact.

“ISO ratings can advise the community on a local fire department’s fire protection capabilities,” Henley said, adding that firefighters' training hours figure into the rating.

The details

Training at the new facility will primarily include simulations of a number of situations, such as household fires and commercial strip center fires. The commercial-style building will have three interior floors and an open-deck fourth level with an upper canopy for rope rescue training. A second building will be a replica of a two-story, single-family residence with an attached garage, according to previous Community Impact reporting.

Lewisville is funding more than half of the facility’s $6.9 million cost. Highland Village and Flower Mound will provide the rest. Sharing a training facility is expected to benefit the three departments—which have responded to calls together before—on future collaborations.

Going forward

Work is being done in both buildings on the second floor. Work on the ceiling for the residential building is scheduled to begin in the next week, Martucci said.

Despite the flooding setback, the project remains on schedule with an estimated completion date of early November.