North Country
5:30 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

North Country Gets Its Own Fire-Fighting Training Center

Gov. Lynch has signed a bill to establish a fire training site in Bethlehem.

It will allow a long-sought $550,000 training facility.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Sound of fire departments being dispatched for fire in Bethlehem…

For decades North Country fire fighters rushing to fires such this one last month first had to go to Concord for training and practice.

And for years fire chiefs have dreamed of having a training facility above the notches, says Jack Anderson, the fire chief in Bethlehem.

“I think it has been a long-term wish in everybody’s mind.”

Now Gov. Lynch has signed a bill that sets aside the funds for a new training facility – including a three or four-story metal house in which fires can be set and fought.

Perry Plummer heads up the state’s Division of Fire Standards and Training.

He hopes the training facility will make it easier to recruit new volunteers.

Meanwhile more experienced fire fighters will also be able to undergo additional training.

“Nobody wants us to do on-the-job training when we pull up to their house. They want us to be 100 percent efficient 100 percent of the time. The only we can do that is through a facility like this. So, this is going to have a tremendous impact on the North Country from a fire standpoint.”

Fire fighters below the notches often have more chances to practice their skills than those in the North Country, says Allan Clark, the fire chief in Sugar Hill.

“If you have a major structure fire every month pretty soon you learn just from the experience of dealing with it what needs to be done, how to do it and how to do it safely. But fortunately in the North Country we don’t have that frequency of fires. But when we do we still have to work at that same level of professionalism.”

The facility will be at a closed ranger station.

The $550,000 will come from administrative fees charged insurance companies, not taxes.

The facility is expected to be open next May.

For NHPR News this is Chris Jensen