By Anne Roth
At a training fire in a wooden building in Lowville a few years ago, a 16-year-old volunteer firefighter was badly burned. This incident prompted OSHA to visit the Spafford Fire District and recommend the installation of a training facility that would be safe. That facility is now a reality.
Spafford Fire Commissioner John Kortz explains:
"The Borodino and Spafford fire departments got together. Land was purchased at the corner of Becker and Willow Hill roads off Route 41. A steel building, 24 by 30 feet, that simulates a four-room house, was erected. It is enclosed by a fence. Water is from an adjoining pond.
"The firefighters will use the facility to learn how to put out live fires. These will be controlled fires. A training officer will be there at all times when training is going on. We do intend to let other local departments use the facility. It is necessary for each firefighter to be trained. When they go into a burning building they must go through the rooms - it is called search and rescue - to make sure no one is there."
To ignite the fire, Class A Material such as wood, straw or imitation smoke is used. No gases or liquids are allowed. Everything is under control and OSHA-recommended. "We have a pond right there so there is sufficient water to put out the fires plus the trucks will have water on them." Kortz said.
Town of Spafford taxpayers assumed the cost of the facility. Planning began in 2005. Among those working on the project were fire commissioners Debra Brown, Brad Cole, Joe Marcheterre, Gib Craig, Sandy Wise and Kortz as well as Rick Wise, Spafford Fire Department chief and Shum Leubner, Borodino chief. The cost of the project was $120,000.
Borodino has 23 firefighters; Spafford has 17. Training is ongoing, the second Monday of each month. "More volunteers are needed. The new training facility should help recruitment," Kortz said. "A firefighter has to have his heart in it."