On Monday night, August 5, 2019, firefighters from the Union Fire Association in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., extended their ladders, used hatchets to vent a roof, smashed through windows and ran hoses into a former dormitory building at 1860 W. Montgomery Ave. in Villanova.
There was no fire, but the firefighters used the vacant building on the site where the Lower Merion School District plans to construct a new middle school to practice techniques that could be necessary for them to save lives and prevent the destruction of property. Firefighters from other Lower Merion fire companies, including Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne and Penn Wynne were also scheduled to train at the site.
Lower Merion's Chief Fire Officer and Fire Marshal Charles McGarvey thanked the School District for opening the property for the firefighting exercises. "As part of our ongoing training program and in an effort to maintain the highest level of proficiency," he said, "the use of this structure will allow for training that we would otherwise not be able to provide to our firefighters."
LMSD is preparing to demolish all the buildings on the site, which previously belonged to the Foundation for Islamic Education, to build a new middle school for up to 1200 students in grades five through eight. Building the new school and restructuring the two existing middle schools will help the District meet the challenges posed by growing enrollment. Fifth grade students will be moved out of the six elementary schools and the middle school population will be split among three campuses, rather than the current two.The new school is scheduled to open in September 2022. Additional information about plans for the new school can be found on the District website, LMSD.org, under the "Enrollment Growth/New Middle School" tab.
You can watch slideshow of photos from the Union Fire Association's training night below: