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North Country
News from everywhere *but* Central New Hampshire.

First Fire Training Facility North Of The Notches To Open

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Chris Jensen for NHPR
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Tighter budgets over the last few years have meant volunteer fire departments in the North Country have been cutting back on making the trip to Concord for training at a state facility. But that will change Friday with the opening of the first fire training facility north of the notches...

It’s something that North Country fire departments have dreamt of for decades, said Jack Anderson, the Bethlehem fire chief.

The new facility has about 12 acres and includes a classroom and a four-story burn tower, said Deborah Pendergast, the director of the state’s division of fire standards and training.

Training will range from fire fighting to removing injured occupants from badly damaged vehicles, Pendergast said.

“You name it. This facility is built for just about any kind of training you could do,” she said.

Straw and wood pallets will be used in the four-story burn tower.

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Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

“So, once we get the fire going and the doors are closed it will be very, very dark in here,” said Pendergast. “You literally will see a little bit of an orange glow. So, they’ll come in the door, they’ll advance their hose lines and they’ll learn about thermal layering, the ways we put fires out.

“We can do an indirect attack and actually sort of aim the hose stream at the ceiling and let the water fall on the fire. We can do direct attack. We’ll just teach them advancing hose lines, finding the seat of the fire and different ways to attack the fire.”

The state provided about $550,000 from administrative fees charged insurance companies, not taxes.

But North Country fire departments have also donated at least 1,000 hours of labor, said Bethlehem’s Anderson.

Friday is the official opening with state officials including Gov. Maggie Hassan expected to attend. The facility is being named after Ray Burton, the executive councilor who represented the North Country and died last year.

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Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR
Straw and wood pallets will be burned. While temperatures could reach 1,200 degrees the goal is about 250F for fire fighters.