GOSHEN — Trade uncertainty with China and delays in getting the main structural pieces has pushed the completion of Goshen’s new fire training facility into October.

The Goshen Board of Works on Monday approved a change order that gives a 68-day time extension to the original contract for the training facility, which is being built at the water tower on Caragana Court. That pushes the expected completion date from Aug. 23 to Oct. 30.

Plans call for a 3,700-square-foot training facility made up of over a dozen shipping containers stacked into two towers, with material burned inside to simulate a structure fire. The Goshen Fire Department plans to use it for training for its own firefighters and in a new joint program with Ivy Tech Community College.

Ancon Construction was awarded the $400,000 contract in spring, with the cost shared by the city and county. Two previous change orders added about $40,000 worth of extras, including kick plates on the doors, electrical service and exterior lighting.

The latest change order doesn’t add anything to the cost of the training grounds, according to Public Works Director Dustin Sailor. It follows a notice last week from American Fire Training Systems Inc., of Lockport, Illinois, which designed the facility and supplies the specially treated containers.

According to the notice, the company has had some challenges in getting its ISO shipping containers in a timely manner.

The company orders it containers from China, which is the primary maker of the ubiquitous metal boxes. Goshen City Council had to pass a special resolution allowing them to make the purchase, since a past council set a rule in 1998 that such big purchases be made from American companies whenever possible.

In February, AFTS placed its order for hundreds of containers for Goshen’s project and several others. They would normally take two months to arrive.

“Normal pattern would be that 100 containers would reach our facilities over a 10-day span. This did not happen,” the Sept. 10 notice states. “Our first order began trickling in the end of May, sometimes receiving two containers in a day, sometimes zero containers. Abnormal spring weather, trade uncertainty and intense customs inspections have all contributed to the delays.”

The company received its containers between June and Sept. 6. Further delays were caused by the high-temperature paint that coats the inside of each container.

“Because of the nature of the viscosity and chemical composition, we have found that doing the interior of the containers had additional safety issues for our personnel,” the letter states. “These challenges were addressed and solutions found but each container has taken an extra two days in the painting process.”

The company now expects to start setting up the containers on Sept. 30 and finish by Oct. 4. 

Sailor said site improvements will follow, including building a concrete pad and exterior staircase.

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