FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 school directors unanimously voted Tuesday to accept a proposal to use approximately 1 acre of the district’s property as a training facility to be used by firefighters, law enforcement and students at Mt. Blue Campus.

The district will retain ownership of the land that is located on Seamon Road, near the reservoir roadway.

Terry Bell, chief of the Farmington Fire Rescue Department, asked the board to allow firefighters to begin the process of building a regional fire training facility in the area. It has been in the works for four or five years, he said. Department representatives met with the Mt. Blue Campus architect prior to the $65 million renovation and addition project at the high school. The goal was to wait until the project was completed before going forward with the burn building.

The department, in conjunction with the Foster Career and Technical Education Center Firefighting Program and area fire departments, have looked at multiple options to have a training facility in the area, Bell said.

High school students in the firefighting program would be able to walk the short distance to the site, said John Churchill, instructor of the program. Currently, the program uses a building on Quebec Street, owned by the University of Maine at Farmington, for training.

Firefighters will possibly seek private donations and grants to fund the burn building, Bell said. The plan is to not burden the taxpayers with the funding of the project, he said.

He has met with Maine Department of Environmental Protection to discuss some setbacks pertaining to the building, wetlands and vernal pools in the area.

Fire departments have to do live burns for training purposes and previously have used acquired, old buildings to burn for training, he said.

But new, more stringent regulations on burning buildings, connected to asbestos, lead paint and other hazardous materials, make it difficult and more costly for fire departments to burn them.

It is estimated that the cost to build a three- or four-story building would be about $200,000, Bell said. It would be designed to simulate residential and commercial building training scenarios. Some burn buildings are made of concrete, while others are made of metal.

The building would be designed to conduct live fire-suppression training along with ladder skills, hose advances and search-and-rescue skills, Bell said. Straw and hay bales would be set on fire inside the building, he said.

“There is currently no facility of this type located in the immediate area,” he said.

Once the land is acquired and permits from the state and Farmington obtained, the next step is to clear the land and have a 10,000-square-foot gravel pad installed to provide space for the building and work area around it. Students could be involved in clearing the land and constructing the building, Bell said.

The rural setting and availability of fire hydrants for a water supply are very beneficial for the construction of a fire training facility, he said.

Churchill said he is in the process of writing a grant to help fund the building.

Board Director Ross Clair of Chesterville asked who would be in charge of upkeep of the building.

The district would be in charge of the building and its use, said David Leavitt, RSU 9 director of support services.

This type of facility doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, Bell said.

If  plowing or mowing is needed, fire departments could take turns doing those tasks, he said.

“There are seven or eight training facilities in the state, and the closest one to us is in Wiscasset,” Churchill said.

Leavitt said that it would be advantageous to the district to maintain control of the building, which would be a community resource. It would give the district a track record of what is going on, he said.

Churchill is writing a grant in the district’s name and if the grant is received and there is any money left over, it could be used to offset any maintenance, if necessary, Leavitt said.

The only cost to the district would be adding the building to the district’s insurance policy coverage, RSU 9 Superintendent Tom Ward said.

Since the building is not a house, it shouldn’t cost that much, considering all of the buildings the district owns, he said.

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