Commissioners approve use of Manns Woodward Studios for Public Safety Training Center design

The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the use of Manns Woodward Studios to design the second phase of the Public Safety Training Center, though the vote came with a caveat requiring discussions with the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association before design moves forward.

With the requirement of a CCVESA-included discussion also came talk about the use of funds for the project, and if any of the funding set aside could be used as incentive to bring in and retain volunteers for both EMS and fire services, an issue the county is currently grappling with.


Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, asked if it was possible take $1 million of the capital money for the project and divert it toward trying to recruit and retain volunteers.

“We need more people to join our volunteer fire services,” Rothschild said. “I think our priorities are wrong.”

People are the critical resource, he added, not buildings.

Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, also asked about how the building design could be used in helping to bring in more volunteers, and eventually put forward an amendment that would push back design until discussions took place with CCVESA. It also included looking into using some of the project money for volunteer incentives, though that motion failed with Rothschild and Howard in the minority.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, pushed back and said it’s important to keep Manns Woodward Studios, which has been a part of the design from the beginning, and it’s important to move forward and not stall on the project.

Wantz said having this type of of facility in the county, and not having to send people to surrounding jurisdictions to train, has been an advantage.

“I don’t think you could put numbers to what a training center does,” he said.

He also said the thought of taking money away from a capital project is “absurd.”

Commissioner President Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, also thought it was important to move forward with the design phase, adding that the board has already voted on the second phase and the funding that goes along with it.

While Howard’s amendment failed, the board did unanimously move forward with Manns Woodward Studios for design and agreed to have the Department of Public Works come back in two weeks after having talked with CCVESA before design begins.

The original Public Safety Training Center came about in the early 1980s. Phase one of the facility, which included an apparatus storage facility, auditorium and classroom building, broke ground in 2014 off Kate Wagner Road in Westminster, on the site of the former training facility. Commissioners approved moving forward with the second phase in July.

Phase 2 will include site improvements for stormwater management; new upper and lower parking lots; a new live fire training burn building; an outdoor classroom; and firefighter training props including a vehicle extrication pad, confined space simulator, trench rescue simulator, vehicle fire, dumpster fire, propane tank fire, fuel spill fire and Christmas tree fire simulators, according to meeting documents.

Manns Woodward designed the first phase, and on Thursday commissioners approved extending their contract to include the design and permitting of the second phase at the cost of $621,000.

The discussion over the struggle to bring in volunteers has been ongoing in Carroll.


This legislation came to the delegation after being approved by 12 of Carroll’s 14 volunteer fire companies and by the Carroll Board of County Commissioners, 4-1. This could help provide staffing and resource efficiencies between fire companies and pave the way for a combination fire service, one that mixes paid career firefighters with volunteers to help support a service that is running low on new volunteers.

The enabling legislation is just one way commissioners have been working stabilize the future of emergency services in the county.