St. Lawrence County volunteer firefighters receive $100,000 for new training building
Friday, October 19, 2012 - 2:33 pm

St. Lawrence County Fire Training Chair Ronald Bertram of Hammond, State Senator Patty Ritchie, Fire Training Fundraising Co-Chair Robert Kerr, and Fire Training Center Treasurer Daniel Basford of Heuvelton pose for a photo on the announcement of the funds for a new training building.

St. Lawrence County’s volunteer firefighters are a step closer to getting their new fire training tower with the announcement of a $100,000 infusion from the state.

State Senators Patty Ritchie, Betty Little and Joe Griffo made the announcement.

The county’s last training building has been condemned after many years of service, and a fund drive began to replace it.

In the meantime firefighters have had to travel outside the county to get the vital training of working with a live fire, but under controlled training conditions.

“While other parts of the state have paid professional fire departments to respond to emergencies, St. Lawrence County relies on unpaid volunteers who leave their families at all hours of the day and night to help their neighbors when disaster strikes,” Senator Griffo said. “As the largest geographic county in New York State, encompassing many sparsely populated rural communities, traveling for educational training can be a real hardship for the more than 40 different volunteer fire companies that serve the 32 towns and 14 villages across St. Lawrence County.”

The St. Lawrence County fire training center’s “live fire” burn simulator was closed four years ago after it was determined it was no longer safe. The building had been set on fire more than 300 times over almost three decades to train volunteers on inside fire firefighting techniques,, according to St. Lawrence County Fire Training Fundraising Co-Chairs Dale Gardner and Robert Kerr. They expressed gratitude to the legislators for their help in obtaining funds for a new facility.

Classes of 20 student firefighters, four instructors and a safety team of six experienced firefighters, two fire engines, a pumper and an ALS ambulance must now travel to Franklin, Lewis or Jefferson county to obtain the mandated training before they can enter burning buildings.

The new facility will have more rooms and provide experience in fighting fires inside basements and on second-floor fires.