Firefighters plan to open training center in Craig

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After five years of searching, Craig firefighters are planning to buy property on which to build a fire training center.

The 3-acre parcel is just south of Craig along First Street, east of Ranney Street. Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board Member Tom Cotton has talked with the owner of the property, and Cotton said the owner has agreed in principle to the sale for an estimated $150,000.

Firefighters originally were looking for property with about 10 acres, to allow for expansion , but Craig Fire/Rescue Deputy Chief Chris Nichols told the board at its January meeting the proposed property will be a good start with the possibility of expanding onto adjacent land.

"It looks like this is a workable piece of property," said Nichols. "This is the first one to kind of materialize for us. It has a lot of the work already done on the site."

That work includes city utilities and a building that could be remodeled to house a fire truck, classrooms and offices. The property is just outside the city limits and falls under Moffat County zoning regulations. Craig Fire/Rescue plans to add fire training upgrades, including a maze, a training tower and a high-tech burn building. The burn building would allow controlled fires for training.

"After five years working on this I would like to see us get this (property) and worry about buildings later," said Nichols.

Completing the center will likely take another five years, according to Fire Chief Roy Mason. He said the center will be needed because the state is considering changing firefighter certification requirements to include one live-fire training per year.

"It would be important because we could put in a three- to four-story tower (and burn building) that we could burn repeatedly," said Mason. "Instead of simulation, you could actually get in and do it. It's good hands-on training."

Mason said the building could be used for specialty training, such as helping people out of windows similar to the local multiple-story retirement home, and by law enforcement for assault team training and by rescuers for repelling practice.

The center could also pay for itself.

"It's something that if it becomes mandatory you have to have live-fire training once a year, you would have people that couldn't afford to build a tower coming here," Mason said. "The (towers) on the East Slope are busy all the time."

Board members unanimously agreed that Craig Fire/Rescue should get the ball rolling to purchase the property.

"I think we need to pursue it," said board Chairman Fred Mason.

Firefighters plan to bring a plan for the property purchase before the board in February.

"Now we can get serious about it and we'll have something next month," said Mason.

In other business, Mason told the board two rookies, Kamisha Begay and Dave Dempster, completed their probationary training and received their firefighter badges Jan. 1. Craig Fire/Rescue has 22 active firefighters. Mason also introduced four new rookies, Steve Foster, Troy Hampton, K.C. Hume and Rob Morris, who will begin training.

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