The legislature’s Education Committee has unanimously endorsed a bill that would allocate $1 million per year to firefighter training facilities.
Maine is one of the few states that has no central fire training facility, which would offer trainees experience in fighting all types of fires.
Lyman and Dayton fire chief Roger Hooper says the profession requires hands on training.
“We don’t get there by watching TV and movies,” says Hooper. “We get there by having a place where we can go and practice these skills and get and competent and proficient at it.”
There are regional facilities, mostly in southern Maine, and the last one was built in 1995.
“Let’s be clear, this bill is about rural Maine and our refusal to do anything about the face we are struggling to recruit and retain firefighters in our communities,” says Rep. Erin Herbig, a Democrat from Belfast who sponsored the bill. “We have been struggling for a long time. And in the legislature, we have talked about it a lot, but have not done anything.”
Under the bill that passed in committee, the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission, which is part of the Maine Community College System, would get $1 million per year to provide grants to build or upgrade regional training facilities.