The Maine Fire Protection Services Commission met in Farmington Monday morning, August 3, and toured the new fire training facility made possible by a grant from the commission. Farmington Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell at center speaks outside the facility for which construction started May 15. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON — Grant funds from the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission have led to the construction of the Western Maine Public Safety Training Facility, a regional live-fire training building off the Seamon Road.

The facility was toured by members of the commission and local legislators Monday morning, August 3.

“This is what you folks did, really accomplished,” Farmington Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell said to the group assembled outside the structure.

The training facility is a 2.5-story structure with an attached 4-story tower.

“Yarmouth has the structure without the tower,” Winthrop Fire Chief Dan Brooks said. “They’re paying for the tower themselves. When the process started, a lot of people weren’t really sure what they were going to get, what they would qualify for. Some asked for a smaller thing.”

“It’s worked out well,” he added. “Farmington got the whole thing. Fairfield had money set aside. They said, ‘We’ll take what you can give, we’ll finish it on our own.’ We’re going to build three more of them.”


With acceptance of the grant funds, the commission will have use of the Farmington facility twice a year for free, Brooks said.

Monday, August 3, Farmington Captain TD Hardy explains a sheet rock simulator found in the attic of the Western Maine Public Safety Training Facility. Members of the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission, which provided facility funding, and local legislators toured the facility when the commission met in Farmington. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“It’s good to have the training center,” Farmington Captain Scott Baxter said. “Scheduling will have to be done through us, make sure no one is using it.”

“We want the state, local communities, really love the fact that schools would be using it,” Brooks said. “The application was well put together. Local communities could come up with their own projects or we have preapproved projects.”

The Farmington facility was built in a hurry, Baxter said.

“Building construction started May 15,” Bell said later.

“It’s very reasonable for the dollar amount,” Brooks said.


Monday, August 3, Livermore Falls Fire Chief Edward Hastings IV stands in one of the burn rooms located in the Western Maine Public Safety Training Facility. Located off the Seamon Road in Farmington, the facility will be used by state and area fire departments and technical schools for live-fire trainings. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“It was a grassroots effort,” Livermore Falls Fire Chief Edward Hastings IV said. “The Department of Labor teamed up, advocated for these. When originally looking for money, we were looking at these boxes. Chief Bell’s goal was $200,000. Realistically, where are you going to find $200,000?”

“Every community had 2-story buildings. This is the best way to train,” Liberty Fire Chief William Gillespie said.

“It’s about $75,000 to do a burn room, need to have funding to keep them going, maintain the outside,” Brooks said.

“The tower will be for aerial training. It’s hard to get a building (for that),” Hastings said. “We spent a lot of time trying to raise funds before the fire commission came up with grants.”

The Western Maine Public Safety Training Facility in Farmington was toured by local legislators and members of the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission. Some visited the top of the tower that will be used for aerial trainings. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“There are sprinklers in every room, a movable wall on the second floor,” Farmington Captain TD Hardy said. “We can move the wall ourselves. The attic space has sheet rock simulators in it.”

Tuesday in a telephone interview, Chief Bell said Farmington received $509,400 in grant funding from the commission.


“That changed from the original amount of $539,964,” he said. “We were one of four awarded grants. The Maine Legislature spent a couple of years on this. The goal was to have one  (training facility) within an estimated hour drive of every fire department in the state. The closest for us was in Auburn.”

Bell added, “Auburn got a smaller grant to update theirs. Yarmouth, Fairfield and us got grants.”

The plan is to have a reserve to cover facility maintenance costs, he said.

“Some communities charge to use their facility. We’re hoping we can do it voluntarily,” Bell said. “We’ll be looking for private money for the reserve. Our original plan was not to do it through town taxes.”

Hastings did much of the writing for the grant, he said.

“He did an excellent job,” Bell added.

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