HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Five of the state's 10 regional fire training schools would share $26.2 million in state funding to rebuild their crumbling buildings, under a revised budget proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The governor's proposal would benefit the Eastern Connecticut, Fairfield, Valley, Burrville and Wolcott regional fire training schools. Rep. Joseph Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said Tuesday the proposed funding would be combined with money from previous years, allowing each school to receive at least $7 million.
Aresimowicz announced the proposal at a news conference. He was joined by regional fire school directors.
Regional fire training schools offer programs that firefighters are required to take for accreditation. The schools follow regulations set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The regulations require that firefighters be versed in subject areas including safety and protective equipment, the chemistry of fire, fire behavior and ventilation. Malloy's proposal would also allow the schools to modernize training practices and increase safety for Connecticut firefighters.
Al Hawkins, director of the Eastern Connecticut school in Willimantic, said the funding would be divided up based on the recommendations of a survey conducted by an architecture firm for the General Assembly in 2001. Following the completion of the survey, the legislature allocated funds to rehabilitate fire training facilities. Since then, only the New Haven and Hartford fire schools have been rebuilt.
Currently, many of the buildings need new roofs and heating systems. In 2005, the Eastern Connecticut school's burn building was condemned because of safety issues. Hawkins said the school now has to transport firefighters to the Stamford school for live fire training required by the state.
Connecticut has 10 regional fire training schools that serve both volunteer and paid firefighters. Of these, few have functioning live burn training facilities. The Wolcott school's burn building is close to being condemned.
Wolcott fire school Director Steve Veneziano said that if the funding passes in the legislature, a new facility will likely be built on prison land in Cheshire by 2015. He said that because his school needs the least repairs, it will likely be the last new school built under the plan.
Veneziano said the plan calls for two fire training schools to be built each year until completion.
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