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St. George facility to help Midcoast firefighters prepare for infernos

By Stephen Betts | Nov 15, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The new fire training facility is under construction at 274 Seal Harbor Road in St. George.

St. George — Starting next summer, firefighters from Waldoboro to Lincolnville will be able to hone their skills at a training center now under construction in St. George.

The need for a facility to train on dealing with active fires has been discussed locally for several years, said Susan Bates of St. George.

About five years ago, the St George Volunteer Firemen’s Association took the first step to make it a reality, beginning with the location and design of a facility, Bates said. This facility is a state-of-the-art training center and provides a valuable and necessary resource for the region.

The project is expected to be completed by June 2021. More than $200,000 was raised from community donors and foundations, the town of St. George and the St. George Volunteer FireFighter and Ambulance Association. The remainder of the $785,000 project was funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture loans and grants.

The new facility is being built in back of the town fire station at 274 Seal Harbor Road (Route 73).

"It is designed to the most up-to-date standards, and there is nothing else like it in the state. Firefighters who are members of the Knox County Fire Training Academy designed it by visiting facilities in Maine and other states and drawing from the best of each facility they saw," Bates said.

"The opportunity to train in such a first-class facility will make being a member of a local fire department more attractive. It will regularly provide them the experience of fighting a fire and it will ease the burden on our firefighters to have a training facility in the area. Neighboring departments that support each other through mutual aid can and will train together," she said.

She said the Knox County Mutual Aid Association endorses this project. There are 18 municipalities in the Association, including Waldoboro and Lincolnville.

In the past, firefighter training was done by acquiring buildings that could be burned. This has become difficult over recent years because of environmental concerns and the increasing value of older structures, she said. Training is currently done in existing training facilities in Maine, also known as burn buildings.

"Some of the existing training facilities are no longer available for training because they either need repair or no longer meet requirements, and those available are at a distance from Knox County. When they are used it is a challenge to transport all the personnel and equipment such a distance, and to keep our communities protected while they are gone," Bates said.

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