Despite the winter weather that left about four to six-inches of snow in Westminster, Carroll County commissioners joined public safety personnel Tuesday for the groundbreaking of a new $4 million public safety training center.

"I think it's appropriate that it's freezing out here today," Commissioner Robin Frazier said to the crowd of nearly 40 in attendance. "To some it seemed that this building wasn't going to move forward until hell froze over."

Public safety personnel have advocated for a new training facility for the past eight years saying it will increase the number of volunteer firefighters in the county while enhancing training opportunities for volunteers.

Dennis Brothers, president of the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association (CCVESA), said Tuesday was a "proud day" for public safety personnel.

Brothers stressed the impact training has on improving our effectiveness in real life instances, making the jobs of emergency responders safer, and decreasing line of duty deaths.

"It all begins right here, right now," he said.

The 13,000 square foot training facility project, which will include an apparatus storage facility, auditorium, and classroom building, will be built off Kate Wagner Road in Westminster, where the existing training facility currently sits.

Construction of the new training center is expected to begin in late March to early April, according to Steve Wantz, immediate past president of CCVESA.

If all goes to plan, the project will be finished around March 2015, Wantz said.

"Weather permitting, we're hoping it's about a year," he said.

Manns Woodward Studios, based in White Marsh, designed the facility, and Roy Kirby and Sons, based in Halethorpe, has been contracted to build it.

Commissioners Tuesday praised the project and the benefits it would bring to Carroll County.

Commissioner Doug Howard said it represented a "major step forward" for public safety.

"I'm very excited for all that will come," he said.

Carroll County is one of few counties in the state to be served entirely by volunteer firefighters, which Commissioner Richard Rothschild called a "real bargain" Tuesday.

"We are so fortunate in this world that we live in to have volunteers," he said.

Commissioner Dave Roush said the training center is a "critical facility" that will be a major upgrade of current facilities.