Firefighters in St. Lawrence County say they've successfully made something out of nothing over the years. One example is a fire training facility. Many years ago, officials created a fire simulator of their own, but it was only a matter of time before that building had been burned too many times. Now local firefighters are working to create a new training facility. But as our Cara Thomas reports, the only thing standing in their way is funding.
WEST POTSDAM, N.Y. -- When someone chooses to become a firefighter, there are many responsibilities that go with the job. One is a lot of training. But here in St. Lawrence County, it's not that easy. Without a fire training facility at their fingertips, firefighters have to travel far and wide to get hands-on experience.
Dale Gardner, Co-Chair of the Fundraising Committee, said, "We've actually had some students who started the course and when they looked at the schedule and what they had to do, had to go for this, they actually dropped the course."
So enough was enough. And local firefighters decided it was time to have their own fire simulator training facility. Their goal is to build a three floor building with two burn rooms. But the journey to get there has not been easy.
Organizers say so far they've raised more than $100,000. But after laying down the foundation, their wallets have almost run dry. Organizers say they still need more than $300,000 to complete the project.
Robert Kerr, the Co- Chairman for Fundraising Committee, said, "We set out with a goal in mind. We believe the project stands on its own merit. There's certainly a need for the firefighters here in the county."
Since the facility will be run by a not-for-profit organization rather than a fire department, it doesn't qualify for certain grants. And with the economy the way it is, donations aren't flowing in either. So the fundraising committee is looking to county legislators, residents and grant opportunities for help. Local fire departments are also holding fundraisers to help cover the cost. Officials say they can't express enough how important this project is.
"We want to have qualified interior firefighters that can enter into a structure, save the lady on the second floor or the third floor because that's ultimately our goal, you know, is life saving," said Kerr.
Organizers say the goal is to finish the project by next April of May.
Project organizers say donations, no matter how small, are greatly appreciated.
For more information about the training facility, to follow its progress or to make a donation go to www.firetrainingcenter.org or visit their Facebook page.