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Fri., Aug. 22
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Money is needed to resurrect St. Lawrence County fire training building

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CANTON — The nonprofit group that is resurrecting the burn building at the St. Lawrence County Fire Training Facility has raised $100,000 toward its $450,000 goal and could soon expand its quest for money to all county residents.

“We’re on our knees,” Dale W. Gardner, co-chairman of the fundraising effort, told a committee of county legislators. “It’s been hard to reach out and get to where we need to get. We’re trying to find a way to knock on every door.”

The simulator at the West Potsdam training facility burnt out after repeated use and was condemned several years ago. Since then, volunteers have packed into vans with their instructors to train in Franklin, Lewis and Jefferson counties, but some of those sites have problems of their own, Mr. Gardner said.

Volunteer firemen are only as good as their training, he said.

Mr. Gardner and co-chairman Robert E. Kerr started raising money last fall but the effort has been uphill because of the economy and because most of those they have asked are the volunteers who are often busy raising money for their respective departments and who already donate a lot of time to their communities.

The organization determined that mailing a flier to every county household could cost $7,000, so it is targeting a smaller sample to residents in the towns of Brasher and Potsdam and villages of Potsdam, Norwood and Massena.

County legislators agreed to help by covering the $3,066 cost of producing the mailers through its print shop.

“The fire simulator is necessary to ensure the safety of our firefighters,” Legislator Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, said. “It’s been four years since it closed and it’s time to get something done.”

Having the training facility could help lower worker’s compensation injuries, Legislator Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, said.

“If we cannot have injuries because of this training, it will more than pay for the cost,” he said.

The new building will improve training over the old simulator because it will have more rooms and provide experience in both a basement and second-floor fire.

The St. Lawrence County Fire Training Facility, which is already using a $42,980 grant to pay for the building’s foundation, is looking for other state and federal money but earmarks have dried up, Mr. Kerr said. The organization is not eligible for some funding because it is not a fire department.

“We will continue looking at other avenues,” he said. “We’ll accept anything and everything we can get.”

Donations may be made online from the organization’s web site at www.firetrainingcenter.org or on Facebook under the same name.

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