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Fire academy, North Country departments looking at training facility for region

August 04, 2011
LITTLETON Representatives from fire departments across the North Country met in Littleton on Thursday for an exploratory meeting on a training center that could be accessed easily by every department in the region.

The only state training center is in Concord, and for years there has been some discussion about setting up a satellite facility to shorten the drive for fire personnel in the northern portion of the state, said Capt. Nick Antonucci of the New Hampshire fire academy before the meeting.

The fire academy officially called the Division of Fire Standards and Training and Emergency Medical Services, which falls under the Department of Safety offers a number of certification programs for the state that include basic to advanced fire-fighting training as well as other specialties such as Haz Mat, inspector and officer training. Their goal is to get full-time and volunteer fire personnel the training they need to be efficient and safe in what they do, said Perry Plummer, director of the division.

Plummer led the discussions Thursday to get a feel for what every department would want in the satellite facility, though it will not have everything that Concord offers. He stressed that the discussions are still in their infancy and ultimately will have to go before the legislature and the governor for final approval.

Still, the academy would really like to see it happen, said Plummer, and they're looking at getting the plans for the project together in the next two years to meet the next budget cycle.

"We have a wonderful facility in Concord," but a lot of the departments in the North Country find it difficult to get there often for training, said Plummer. "They're traveling two hours to train for two hours."

"This [satellite] facility could be used for certification training or just as part of regular training," he said.

No decisions were made Thursday, though widespread support for the project was shown at the meeting, and monthly meetings and a committee will be set up to look into it further.

Options that need to be considered include whether the facility will be sufficient to handle live fire training the cost goes up for burning indoors, said Plummer, but there was overwhelming support for it from those gathered at the meeting. Other concerns are where to build the facility so that it is as convenient as possible for everyone in the North Country, as well how many stories the training building will be and what kind of water source the facility will have access to.

The money to build the facility would come from the Academy's Fire Fund, which is a dedicated revenue fund that is fed by fees generated by insurance companies doing motor vehicle background checks, said Plummer after the meeting.

The facility would benefit the community by getting more firefighters trained and by expanding upon current firefighters' training so that they are more efficient in their jobs.

"[The North Country facility would] help fire departments provide better service to the tax payers, which are our customers," said Antonucci. "We want to make sure that tax payers' money is well-spent."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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